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Carla stars as "Libby" on HBO's series "Carnivale." With her role as a memorably over-caffeinated college freshman on television's critically praised show "Undeclared", youthful actress Carla Gallo has endeared herself to former campus dorm-rats nationwide. And though her actual age may betray the naïve nature of those making the leap from the high school hallways to the college campus, Gallo has succeeded in making her television alter ego believable, in part by drawing on the vivid recollections of her college career. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Gallo attended the LaGuardia School of Performing Arts before setting her sights on Cornell University. Like her television counterpart, Gallo dabbled in numerous potential careers before pursuing a career as an actress, though the lure of the theater was too magnetic to resist and the formerly undeclared student graduated a few short years later with a Theater Arts degree. Being nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her feature debut in 1994's Spanking the Monkey proved to be a good start for the fledgling thespian, and though it would be five more years until her next feature role, Gallo would next appear in The 24-Hour Woman in 1999. With small-screen appearances in both E.R. and Law & Order priming her for her work on Undeclared, the actress approached the series on a positive note after hitting it off early on with series creator Judd Apatow. As someone who encouraged improvisation, Apatow often drew on Gallo's previous college experiences to make the character more multidimensional and believable. Thinking back to the frantic all-night cram sessions of her college days, Gallo recalled a session in which her synapses fired on overdrive due to an oversaturation of caffeine. Apatow encouraged her to expand on such recollections (recollections that often found their way into the show), which were a key factor in his aspiration to create a realistic portrayal of the college experience, warts and all.
Carla Gallo was born on June 24, 1975 in New York, NY USA.
Freaks and Geeks Lite
Looking back on my freshman year at the University of Virginia, I remember surprisingly little. Most of my time was spent pining for my high school boyfriend Stan, who was busy pledging Theta Mu Whatever at a college in a different time zone. But for all my romantic preoccupation, I can recall a number of the benchmarks of my education. The poster on the bathroom door, which documented every time someone from our hall prayed to the porcelain god. My 16-year-old overachieving and aspiring dentist roommate, spraying her bangs into place. The relief I felt boarding the bus for home on breaks and holidays. In short, while common cultural myths would have us believe these are "the best years of our lives," it was clear to me that they were the best years of someone else's life.
Fortunately, Judd Apatow, the creator of Fox's new sitcom Undeclared, remembers that college is riddled with such minutiae, and is full of non-moments that seem crucial to one's success in life. It blasts the common myths of higher education as mere youthful liberation and intellectual rigor, and instead focuses on the absurdity of the college experience: the depth of pop music lyrics; the moral imperative of killing an entire keg, no matter how sick it made you later, these are the imperatives of Undeclared's collegians. Like Apatow's dearly departed Freaks and Geeks (one of the smartest and least pretentious depictions of high school angst on recent prime time televsions), Undeclared captures the exquisite awfulness of college with memorable characters, authentic details, and snappy dialogue.
Consider the pilot episode, where freshmen Steven (Jay Baruchel) and Lizzie (Carla Gallo) hide out from their first dorm party. Disillusioned, they assess the primary advantages of college life -- staying up to 11, eating candy all day, and the freedom to pierce anything. Depressed by such meager benefits, they do what any frightened freshmen away from home for the first time would do: they put the do not disturb scrunchie on the door handle and have spontaneous sex. It's a rather amusing scene, and nicely encapsulates what could be the show's real contribution to representing college-aged youth -- that it examines some of the anxieties of college life in all its uncomfortable detail. Of course, the scene also demonstrates the show's possible shortcomings, that it merely replicates some of the same old youth stereotypes, as, for instance, college as a time for sexual experimentation and liberation.
These seeming contradictions are just a few of the reasons to love Undeclared, a show with a wealth of characters who manage to seem real individuals and category types at the same time. Many fans will want to know if Undeclared is as good as its beloved predecessor. Even if Freaks and Geeks was too insightful for its target audience of teens and tweens, it was at least a glorious failure.
This time out, however, Apatow aims a bit higher, or at least for an older demographic, and which might contribute to the show's success. While the younger viewers of Freaks and Geeks might not have been ready to view their own lives with the sense of bittersweet irony promoted by the show, hopefully older students and adults alike will embrace Undeclared, which is both funny enough for those currently mired in dorm life and smart enough for those with a sense of objective distance on their college days. Undeclared has already achieved the impossible in the first episode: it made me nostalgic for a time in my life that I truly loathed.
The Carnivále Comes To Dallas
HBO Stars NIck Stahl & Carla Gallo Make Local Appearance
Dallas has no shortage of celebrities, but it’s always fun when we get a couple of Hollywood types for an appearance. This weekend saw Nick Stahl and Carla Gallo, stars of HBO’s Carnivále, signing autographs and promoting HBO’s latest hit at Best Buy at Midway & LBJ.
Carnivále is nearing the end of it’s first season and the reaction to HBOs latest series has been nothing short of incredible. The New York Times wrote “A spooky supernatural adventure that tightly entwines magic and the mundane. Carnivále is actually closer to a Harry Potter story for adults.” One group of fans said that they get together every Sunday for dinner before sitting down to watch the latest episode. With a history of fielding award-winning shows, Carnivále looks to continue the tradition that saw HBO earn 109 Emmy nominations and 18 Emmy Awards this past year.
Of course the question on some people’s minds on Saturday afternoon was whether or not Carnivále would be back on HBO for another season. Nick and Carla are extremely optimistic, given the respone from critics and fans alike. The HBO people on hand were tight-lipped about it officially, but a wink and a nudge tells me fans shouldn’t worry too much about the show coming back for a second season. In the meantime, Nick & Carla enjoyed taking some time to promote Carnivále since production on the first season ended back in the summer.
For Nick this is a homecoming, since he’s actually from Richardson, although he’s been spending the more of his time in Hollywood since he burst onto screens with Mel Gibson in Man Without A Face. Unlike many other actors who try to grab every big marquee possible to further their careers, Nick’s been concentrating on more challenging projects. He’s quoted on IMDb.com as saying "I try to avoid the sweet-ass roles", which would explain his great performances in such films as Bully, The Thin Red Line, and now Carnivále.
Carla Gallo is also not one to shy away from a challenging role since she got her start in Spanking The Monkey in 1994, a small but highly controversial film that still draws heated response from it’s detractors. (Personally, I thought it was great, but what do I know.) She has spent time in the TV series Undeclared before working on Carnivále.
For those 25 of us who were intense fans of NBC's short-lived "Freaks and Geeks", watching "Undeclared," the new series on Fox from F&G executive producer Judd Apatow, is like having sex on the rebound.
It's somewhat fulfilling, it's better than nothing, but it's just not the same. It's not you, Judd, it's me. Or maybe it is you. I don't know. I'm just so confused right now.
It's been almost two years since its cancellation, so we F&G fans should get over it. "Freaks and Geeks" was a one-of-a-kind event, a way-too-close-to-home examination of high school that was funny, sad, cringe-inducing and compelling, sometimes at the same moment. If you want to know what I'm talking about, watch the repeats still running on Fox Family Channel. So now we move on to "Undeclared," which instead of taking place in high school in 1980 is set in a college at right this very moment.
Like F&G, Undeclared is supposed to lay bare those strange, awful, exhilarating moments of higher education, with humor but no laugh track.
The center of the series is Steven Karp, an 18-year-old freshman who had a seven-inch growth spurt after graduating high school and expects that to translate into studmania for his freshman year at his hometown University of North Eastern California. In a casting coup, Apatow got an actual 18-year-old (Jay Baruchel) to play him.
Baruchel's suitemates in his dorm include Lloyd (Charlie Hannum of the British "Queer as Folk"), a suave blonde ladies man, Marshall (Timm Sharp), a music major who seems perpetually stoned, and Ron (Seth Rogan, Ken the Freak from "Freaks and Geeks"), the studious yet most beer-oriented member of the crew.
Across the hall in the coed dorm are Rachel (Monica Keena of "Dawson's Creek"), a hottie prone to Tony Soprano-style panic attacks, and Lizzie (Carla Gallo of "Spanking the Monkey"), whose dorm, right down to her pillowcase, is decorated with pictures and collages created by her obsessive boyfriend (Jason Segel, Nick the Freak from F&G).
There were some great moments in the first two episodes, like the resident advisor trying to calm down Rachel by telling her, "I've been here for six years and I get nervous, too." But there's not much that seems to be building toward a cohesive whole. One problem may be that the show is only 30 minutes, unlike the hour-long F&G, just not enough time to build up a deep story. That could be one reason why the main characters' world seems hermetically sealed in the dorm.
And a big bowl of nothing so far has been the character of Steven's dad, played by troubadour Loudon Wainwright III — Rufus' father. He finds out his wife is dumping him and parties with the boys in the dorm for solace. The character was OK for the pilot episode, but what else do you do with him? It may have been better to make him some sort of wacked-out professor. That also would have given the characters someplace else to go.
Still, "Undeclared" is eminently watchable and better than probably 95 percent of what's on network television. However, there are signs already that Fox is following NBC's lesson in How to Short-Circuit an Apatow Show. The second episode, shown on Oct. 2, was supposed to be the fourth.
The actual second episode involved Steven trying to make Lizzie his girlfriend after a one-night stand prompted by a fight she had with her boyfriend. The second episode that aired showed Steven helping the boyfriend get back together with Lizzie after she dumps him, apparently for good. Huh? Now when the real second episode airs, it will make no sense.
According to one TV site's interpretation, Fox apparently panicked after seeing the premiere's low ratings and decided to rejigger the episode order, much like NBC did with F&G. (NBC also almost never kept F&G in the same time slot for two straight weeks.) It makes you wonder why Apatow didn't pitch his series straight to HBO, his employer as a producer on "The Larry Sanders Show," and avoid the commercial television wringer.
Maybe Apatow's on the rebound, too.
Carla Gallo stars in 'Carnivale'
1934. The Dust Bowl. The last great age of magic. In a time of titanic sandstorms, drought and pestilence - all signs of God's fury and harbingers of the Apocalypse - the final conflict between good and evil is about to begin. The battle will take place in the Heartland of an empire called America. And when it is over, man will forever trade away wonder for reason.
Debuting on HBO this September, CARNIVÀLE follows a traveling carnival as it wends its way across the Dust Bowl, focusing on a mysterious young fugitive with hidden talents who is taken in by the carnival, and on the charismatic, shadowy evangelist who will ultimately cross his path. The 12-episode dramatic series takes place at a time of worldwide unrest, with evil on the rise around the globe and the Great Depression wreaking economic and social havoc here at home.
As they become aware of their abilities, Ben and Brother Justin find themselves wrenched from their lives to realize that the world they thought the knew -- this tenuous, prosaic reality shared by humankind -- is actually a chessboard upon which is played the ancient conflict between Light and Darkness, and they are key players in the battle.
In addition to Nick Stahl ("In the Bedroom," "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines") and Clancy Brown ("The Shawshank Redemption"), cast regulars on CARNIVALE include Michael J. Anderson ("Twin Peaks") as Samson, who runs the show for Management; Adrienne Barbeau ("Escape from New York") as Ruthie, the maternal figure of the carnival, as well as the snake charmer and mother to the strong man; Patrick Bauchau ("The Cell") as Lodz, the mentalist who can see into the future and the past; Debra Christofferson ("Seraglio") as Lila, the carnival's bearded lady; Tim DeKay ("Swordfish") as Jones, Samson's right-hand man and the rousty manager; Clea DuVall (HBO's "The Laramie Project"), as Sofie, the tarot card reader and medium for her comatose mind-reader mother Apollonia, played by Diane Salinger (HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm"); John Fleck ("Star Trek: Enterprise") as Gecko, deformed with a rare condition that makes his skin lizard-like; Amy Madigan ("HBO's Laramie Project"), as Brother Justin's loyal sister Iris; Karyne Steben ("Cirque du Soleil: Saltimbanco") and Sarah Steben ("Cirque du Soleil: Saltimbanco") as Siamese twins Alexandria and Caladonia; Brian Turk ("American Pie 2") as Gabriel, the strong man. The carnival's burlesque family consists of the emcee father Stumpy, played by Toby Huss ("Beyond the City Limits"); mother Rita Sue, played by Cynthia Ettinger ("Thirteen"); and daughters Dora Mae, played by Amada Aday ("Meat Loaf: To Hell and Back"), and Libby, played by Carla Gallo ("Undeclared").
CARNIVÀLE directors include Jack Bender ("The Lone Ranger," HBO's "The Sopranos"), Rodrigo Garcia (HBO's "Six Feet Under" and "The Sopranos"), Tim Hunter ("River's Edge"), Alison MacLean (HBO's "Sex and the City"), Peter Medak ("The Krays"), John Patterson (HBO's "Six Feet Under"), Jeremy Podeswa (HBO's "Six Feet Under" and "The Wire") and Scott Winant ("The West Wing").
Writers on the series include Henry Bromell ("Northern Exposure"), Toni Graphia ("Roswell"), Daniel Knauf ("Wolf Lake"), Ronald D. Moore ("Star Trek: The Next Generation"), Dawn Prestwich ("Ally McBeal") and Nicole Yorkin ("Judging Amy"), and William Schmidt ("Prey").
CARNIVALE is created by Daniel Knauf; executive produced by Ronald D. Moore, Daniel Knauf and Howard Klein; co-executive producers, Nicole Yorkin & Dawn Prestwich, Gregg Fienberg and David Knoller; supervising producers, William Schmidt and Dan Hassid; producer, Anthony Santa Croce; consulting producers, Toni Graphia and Steve Oster.
Carla Gallo: Spanking the Monkey
Even so, Barcelona is a lot easier to take than the currently much-touted Spanking the Monkey, written and directed by the "young" David O. Russell, who, at 35, should know better. It is a film made on a financial as well as intellectual shoestring, and it shows it in every frame. If art lies in the concealing of art, as the Latin proverb has it, the art of shoestringery lies in hiding the shoestring. Here even the cinematography by Michael Mayers looks inept, possibly for reasons of financial limitations. But the cheapness in the writing, directing, and acting cannot be explained away in economic terms.
We have here the by now obligatory dysfunctional family, the Aibellis: father Tom is a traveling salesman for self-help video cassettes, always on the road, always in hotel rooms where a naked chippie seems to be part of the furniture. He is also a miser, tyrant, and fool, preventing his pre-med-student son, Raymond, from availing himself of a prestigious Washington summer scholarship, and forcing him instead to stay in their suburban Connecticut home taking care of his mother. Susan Aibelli has a broken leg in a cast, and a neglected wife's bruised ego casting about for compensation: Ray is to be her nurse, cook, sounding board, unpaid lady's companion, and, as it happens, bedmate. For, among other improbable things, Spanking the Monkey is about incest.
Incest is a difficult subject, to be accosted only by the greatest of artists. Even as good a filmmaker as Louis Malle treated it charmingly but unsatisfactorily in Murmur of the Heart (1970), turning incest into something as inconsequential as a mother and son drinking a cup of coffee from the same cup. Monkey strives to provide the equally briefly and irresponsibly treated incest with at least a more elaborate buildup, so we get endless massagings of the maternal leg and proppings up and pawings of the maternal body in the shower, along with appropriate oglings, wisecracks, and heavy breathing, but not a shred of genuine empathy or insight. These huffings and puffings are no more persuasive than the scenes of onanism that give the film its title, and are so poorly contrived and executed as to make it hard to tell whether the numerous tortuous and tasteless scenes on the toilet have to do with masturbation or with constipation.
Yet as whenever Ray retires to the bathroom for the eponymous pursuit, Frank, the family dog, whines and nuzzles away at the bathroom door until Ray admits him, the film lapses repeatedly into a tedious quasi-coitus interruptus--spoiling the mongrel rather than spanking the monkey. Alas, masturbation may be an even tougher cinematic topic than incest. Of course, there are other plot elements, too, such as two attempts by Ray to commit suicide--one comic, one dramatic--but both equally unsuccessful: Raymond is as much of a bust as a felode-se as Mr. Russell is as a filmmaker. There is also a youthful proto-romance with the neighboring psychiatrist's daughter (credibly played by Carla Gallo), but here, too, the authorial clumsiness precludes anything insightful, touching, or new.
Mr. Russell is, alas, less than lucky with his actors. Although Benjamin Hendrickson gets the father's loony self-contradictions across well enough, the other principals come up short. Alberta Watson, as the mother, wallows in a petulantly fixed stare for minutes on end, which becomes especially monotonous because it is shot mostly from the same angle (left semiprofile). But she fails to elicit sympathy for Susan, so that her solicitations of devotion from Ray are no more moving, and rather less funny, than Frank the dog's pesky tantrums at the bathroom door. As for Jeremy Davies, his Ray is nothing more than a nastier, less charming post-Tarkingtonian Penrod.