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‘Always Sunny’ Star Rob McElhenney Had Huge Year As Fat Mac

Posted by MTV News On December - 9 - 2011

‘I was trying to destroy myself physically,’ McElhenney says of gaining 50 pounds to play Fat Mac, one of MTV News’ Top 50 TV Characters of 2011.
By James Montgomery


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Rob McElhenney as Fat Mac in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”


Photo: Joey L./ FX

Gregor Samsa became an insect. Hulk Hogan dyed his beard black and joined the nWo. Metallica used to be awesome.

Transformations are as much a part of life as eating, breathing and making fun of Lulu, yet rarely are they as unexpected as the grand, grotesque metamorphosis Rob McElhenney pulled off on the seventh season of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” when he turned the formerly fitness-obsessed Mac into a bulbous, bloated buffoon …
mostly because he thought it would be funny.

But McElhenney was also making a deeper point, too. By gaining 50 pounds of solid fat, he took a not-too-subtle jab at one of TV’s oldest tropes: Namely, that as shows go on, characters don’t age and they seemingly get better-looking. It’s the kind of deconstructionist slant that has made “Sunny” a cult favorite and made Fat Mac one of the year’s best characters. Because while, sure, it was funny to watch him inject insulin into his ginormous gut, you couldn’t help but ask yourself why there aren’t more characters like him on network shows.

So, in celebration of Fat Mac’s inclusion in MTV News’ Top 50 TV Characters of 2011, we spoke to McElhenney about piling on the pounds, the silky comfort of Tommy Bahama shirts, and how, someday, he hopes to be considered “the De Niro of basic-cable comedy.”

MTV News: First off, congratulations on making our list of the Top 50 TV Characters of 2011. Fat Mac actually came in at #8 on the list.

Rob McElhenney: I made the top 10? F— yeah! That’s really awesome. Who was ahead of me? [We start reading McElhenney the list, but he makes us stop when we reveal that Snooki came in at #3.] What?
Are you f—ing kidding me? I refuse to hear anything else. Jesus Christ.

MTV: Mac’s transformation was one of the television highlights of the year, and not just because it’s funny to see him, you know, lug around a garbage bag filled with chimichangas. You just don’t see characters put on that kind of weight on sitcoms now, or really ever before.

McElhenney: Yeah. Vanity is such a huge part of television, and if you watch any average sitcom, you notice that the actors get better-looking as the years go by. And I caught myself sitting in the editing room last year, looking at myself, and I said, “Man, I don’t look very good in this scene; I should try to find a different shirt or something next time.” And I realized, “Wow, that is the first time I’d ever really thought that.” So I realized I needed to go in the extreme opposite direction. It’s always been our goal to do the opposite of what any sitcom on network television would do, so that’s what I did.

MTV: So it went beyond, just, “It would be funny to see Mac gain an obscene amount of weight …”

McElhenney: It wasn’t just a stunt. I thought, if we were being true to the characters, and we were really showing what these people would look like if they lived the way that they claimed to live, this is what we would look like. All we do is sit around and drink and eat terrible food, and there’s certainly no exercise going on, and we don’t seem to really care about our health. So when you hit a certain early-30s, mid-30s range, it’s going to start to fall apart.
So, to me, it was less of a stunt or a gag and more of an actual representation of what Mac really might look like at this point in his life.

MTV: So once you decided you were going to gain the weight, how’d you go about doing it without, you know, totally destroying your body?

McElhenney: Oh, I was basically trying to destroy myself physically as much as I possibly could. I was trying to eat around
5,000 calories a day, and at first I was doing it as healthy as possible, but after like the 3,000th calorie of grilled chicken breast and rice, you realize you literally have to consume twice as much volume as opposed to just eating a cheeseburger. So after a while, I started eating a lot, a lot of doughnuts. It was really hard, man. The key to it was force-feeding myself this milkshake that I made every day that had weight gainer, chocolate milk, chocolate ice cream, and creatine, which creates bloating, and force-feeding myself two of those every day, and those were about 1,000 calories a piece, and that’s what really put it over the edge.

MTV: You know, it’s funny, because you hear about all these actors gaining or losing weight for roles, and they’re almost always lauded for doing so. Does it bother you that, after going through so much, people only see Fat Mac as this sort of stunt?

McElhenney: Well, I’d like to enter that conversation. You know, “the De Niro of basic-cable comedy.” [He laughs.] Nah, it doesn’t bother me. We’re not that kind of show. But I don’t think people understand how hard it was to just gain all this weight. I started at 162 and I got up to 212 … and I was also working out, just doing, like, powerlifting, because I noticed that most of my weight was just going to my gut, and it wasn’t filling out everywhere else and it wasn’t really playing, so to create that sort of non-defined, smooth look, I had to lift weights, and then the fat just sort of sat on top of the muscle. I was trying to create David, and as we all know, Michelangelo had to start with a slab of marble and then whittle it down. So I was just creating the slab.

MTV: Another great thing about the character this season is that he introduced the Tommy Bahama shirt into the national conversation.

McElhenney: [He laughs.] I see a lot of people wearing them. And I think middle-aged guys wear them because they think it hides their gut, and it doesn’t. In a bizarre way, it makes them look bigger, and originally I was wearing these super-tight T-shirts, and since my fat was kind of rolling out from underneath it, you would think that you would look bigger onscreen that way, as opposed to this big, flowing shirt. But for whatever reason, they actually accentuate the size. They’re like a muumuu. And the truth is, once you slip one of those bad boys on, they’re unbelievably comfortable. They’re made out of silk, and they really just flow and they breathe, and I was like, “Goddamn, I kind of really love these shirts.” I took some home, but my wife ["Sunny" co-star Kaitlin Olson] wasn’t having it.

MTV: One of the key episodes this season was “How Mac Got Fat,”
which, as the title implies, explained why he put on all the weight.
There are scenes of you in flashback when you were skinny. Can you explain the backstory of that episode?

McElhenney: We shot it last season, and it was a completely different episode and we were going to air it this year, because we had one less slot last year. So that was always the intention, and then as we started the season, and I went through this endeavor, we realized we couldn’t just air this episode because it wouldn’t make sense anymore.

So we sort of broke down the episode and said, “How can we tell this as a flashback, and create this as being the reason why Mac did this in the first place?” So we rewrote it, based on the cut and based on the footage we had, and then we went back and created this completely different episode. It was literally the last thing we shot this season.

MTV: So, finally, we know you’ve dropped most of the Fat Mac weight now. Looking back, how do you feel about the entire endeavor?

McElhenney: Yeah, I’ve dropped almost all of it. I think the remaining 10 to 12 pounds are probably just going to stay. I’m OK with that. [He laughs.] And, you know, I’m really happy I did it. It was hard, but it was worth it. I can tell you right now that this never would’ve happened on network television. Because when I would’ve gone in to pitch it to the network executives, they would’ve said, “Absolutely not.” Because the glamour is such an important part of how they sell their shows, so trying to make the actors look as good as they possibly can is an important part of the process. And our show has never been about that.

MTV will reveal the best artists, songs and movies of the year. Come to MTV News each day to see more big reveals and check out more of MTV’s Best of 2011 music, TV, movies and news coverage.

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French Montana Vies For Spotlight With Hottest Breakthrough MC Nod

Posted by MTV News On December - 9 - 2011

Courted by the likes of Kanye West, Rick Ross and Jay-Z before joining Diddy, Montana earns a spot on MTV News’ 2011 list — vote now!
By Steven Roberts


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French Montana


Photo: Getty Images/ MTV News

From the very moment the horns from the Lords of the Underground’s 1993 classic “Funky Child” sound until the moment that “Shorty got potential, I could be her sponsor” is heard, it was evident that French Montana had a hit on his hands with “Shot Caller.” Montana’s rise to prominence wasn’t that instantaneous, however.

French Montana has been making noise on New York City’s underground rap scene since the early 2000s with his “Cocaine City” DVD series. Montana hoped the street series — showcasing interviews with big-name artists like T.I. and then unknowns like Nicki Minaj and Waka Flocka — would help broaden his fanbase in the same way other up-and-comers hoped their mixtapes did.

He started gaining a lot of momentum later on in the decade, especially when he and Max B teamed up to drop the Coke Wave mixtape series. That momentum slowed when the Biggaveli was incarcerated, but Montana never stopped working. Fast-forward a couple of years and he found himself in the middle of speculation concerning whether he would sign with Kanye West, Diddy, Rick Ross or Jay-Z — two of the Bronx MC’s suitors, Rick Ross and Diddy, even hopped on the remix of “Shot Caller.” Wherever Montana landed, it was clear he wanted to be the main attraction.

“I rather be LeBron in Cleveland than LeBron in Heat, so you read between the lines,” French said. “Wherever I go, I’d rather be the star than have to sit there. I worked this hard to get here so when I step in, I have to be the main focus.”

On Thursday, French ended the speculation when he hit BET’s “106 & Park,” making a splashy appearance with his new label boss: Diddy.

With rappers assembling crews like a game of dodgeball during PE, Montana promises to be a star as he puts his John Hancock — insert obligatory “pause” — on a Bad Boy contract. And with the streets already flooded with mixtape material and a joint LP with Waka on the way, there’s no question that the work ethic is there.

Hottest Breakthrough MCs was established by MTV News in 2010 as a fan-driven initiative that spotlights, celebrates and cultivates new talent. MTV News chose a pool of young rappers and urged fans to vote for their favorite. When it was all said and done, Wiz Khalifa emerged as the Hottest Breakthrough of last year. The competition was tough, but the Taylor Gang General beat out runner-up Nicki Minaj, ATL group Travis Porter, Diggy Simmons and J. Cole. This year, you can vote for Machine Gun Kelly (or your favorite up-and-comer) over at RapFix.MTV.com, and be sure to check back for daily updates and poll results.

Each day, we’ll spotlight a new Hottest Breakthrough MC before we conclude on December 13 when the polls close at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2011 Hottest Breakthrough MC will be revealed during December 14′s “RapFix Live,” during which the winner will appear as our in-studio guest. There will also be a special announcement about MTV News’ upcoming Hottest MCs in the Game list and debate.

To be considered a Hottest Breakthrough MC, an artist cannot have released a major-label full-length album. Finalists from 2010′s Hottest Breakthrough MCs poll will not be eligible for 2011 consideration, so unfortunately, Diggy Simmons and Travis Porter won’t be part of this conversation.

Who do you think should be 2011 Hottest Breakthrough MC? Share your picks in the comments!

Stick with MTV News as we profile the 2011 Hottest Breakthrough MCs before announcing the winner December 13 on “RapFix Live” — vote now!

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Ron Swanson Is MTV News’ #1 TV Character Of 2011!

Posted by MTV News On December - 9 - 2011

‘I generally get behind everything Ron does, no matter how extreme,’ Nick Offerman tells MTV News of his ‘Parks and Recreation’ antihero.
By Josh Wigler


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Nick Offerman in “Parks and Recreation”


Photo: NBC

If ever there were a man deserving of all the eggs and bacon you have, it’s Ron Swanson. The Parks Department director of Pawnee, Indiana, is perhaps the manliest man on television, complete with what is indisputably the manliest mustache on TV today. There’s something else you should know about Mr. Swanson too: He’s the best television character of 2011!

Swanson won the highest honor in our Top 50 TV Characters of 2011 countdown over the likes of cancer-stricken chemistry teacher-turned-murderous meth cook Walter White of “Breaking Bad” and our very own “Jersey Shore” favorite Snooki. All three could have easily earned that top prize, but in the end, there’s just no resisting the raw, hilarious awesome that is Ron Swanson.

But Ron would be nothing without Nick Offerman, the actor, comedian and professional woodworker who has played the staunch anti-government government employee for four seasons of “Parks and Recreation.” Offerman spoke with MTV News about his status as 2011′s top television character, why Ron is such an appealing figure, his battle with the terrible Tammys and much, much more.

MTV: Congratulations! Ron Swanson is our #1 pick for the best TV character of the year. It goes without saying that we’re all very big fans over here!

Nick Offerman: Well, thank you. I’m over the moon. I’m so flattered. It’s crazy!

MTV: When did it dawn on you that Ron was such a big hit? We’ve seen countless Internet memes about him, and he’s always the topic of conversation after a “Parks and Rec” episode airs. When did it hit you that Ron had really arrived?

Offerman: It sort of came out of the blue around the holidays two years ago. It was the fall of our season two. My wife [Megan Mullally, who plays Tammy Two] and I don’t really cotton to the Internet too much, so people started saying to me, “You’re getting a lot of attention on the Internet. You might want to think about getting a publicist. I think you might have something here.” I said, “OK, that sounds like hogwash to me, but I’ll go along with it.” And I haven’t looked back. It’s been incredibly gratifying and astonishing.

See our Top 50 TV Characters of 2011, 50 to 41, including a masked bachelor and dashing novelist/crime-fighter.

MTV: You spend so much time playing this character, four seasons deep now. For you, what’s the appeal of Ron? What is it about this character that you love playing so much?

Offerman: Well, I guess I spent so many years of my career utilizing a sense of humor that we see in Ron and being rejected for it. For so many years, people have been telling me to talk faster. “Try not to be so scary.” [Laughs.] To finally find writers that have such simpatico with me and my sense of humor has got to be my favorite thing about Ron. They write me a scene where the most important thing I can do is remain silent and immobile, and that’s the hilarious part. [Laughs.] It kind of feels like coming home after all these years.

MTV: It’s been a big year for the character. Right out the gate in season four, we got to meet the other two Tammys in Ron’s life, Tammy One and Tammy Zero. What was it like finally getting to interact with all these legendary women in Ron’s life?

Offerman: For me the actor, it’s such an embarrassment of riches to do an episode with Megan, Patricia Clarkson and Paula Pell. It’s like being told that you’re going to play in the World Series with the most incredible all-star team assembled as your teammates. I was really traumatized by the effects all these women had on Ron. His face was denuded of his mustache, much like Samson having his locks snipped off by Delilah, as well as his family jewels. It really felt like I was being simultaneously raped and fed a delicious meal. [Laughs.]

See our Top 50 TV Characters of 2011, 40 to 31, including a “hootie hoo!”-hollering chef and funnyman talk-show host.

MTV: Do you think we’ve seen the last of the Tammys? As in, are there any other Tammys lurking about out there in Ron’s life?

Offerman: I can’t imagine. I think the power of this triumvirate is so all-encompassing. I think we have more than enough fuel for many more seasons with the Tammys we’ve established.

MTV: You brought up something that I was going to touch on: Ron losing his mustache really was a Samson moment. Could Ron ever truly be Ron Swanson without that mustache, or is it critical to who he is?

Offerman: I think if, God forbid, Ron was in some sort of disfiguring accident that disallowed him to grow whiskers anymore, I don’t think he could bounce back. I think Ron is an accessory to the mustache, or the mustache is an accessory to Ron. My friend is this genius artist named Pat Roberts, and he has a painting of a wimpy-looking sheriff with a sheriff’s badge on, and there’s a balloon with this mean look on its face, hanging next to the sheriff. It says: “For obvious reasons, Staticky Pete wore the badge, but everyone knew the balloon was the sheriff.” I think everyone knows that the mustache carries the thunder for Ron.

Check out our Top 50 TV Characters of 2011, 30-21, including a depressed meth cook and a football coach with a heart of gold.

MTV: One of the reasons we love Ron so much is that he gets away with things that we only wish we could get away with in our life. For example, when he discovers how much personal information can be learned about him through Google — that you can see a satellite image of his property — his response is to throw his computer in the trash. I can certainly relate to that. Do you relate to Ron’s view of the world?

Offerman: Absolutely. I’m very much a Luddite by choice. I grew up on a farm out in the middle of a cornfield. You’d go for days without being reached by people. Now, in the information age, you have everyone at your beck and call — or, more to the point, to be at the beck and call of the world — on a device in your pocket, and it’s incredibly distasteful. I often fantasize about throwing the whole thing in the ocean. Unfortunately, I’m in a business where my agent tells me I have a meeting with Patricia Roberts next week.

MTV: You’re hooked in, sir. There’s very little you can do.

Offerman: There is, but look, what my wife and I do is eschew as much as we can. We don’t do Twitter, we don’t do Facebook. It’s all we can do to answer our e-mails; that already takes up too much time, so we don’t do much [Web] surfing.

MTV: On the flipside, is there anything about Ron that you can’t relate to? Are there things he does that you just can’t see yourself pulling off in your life?

Offerman: In principle, no. I generally get behind everything Ron does, no matter how extreme. But when Ron exhibits superhuman abilities, that’s when it crosses the line. We shot an episode recently where I have to jam an entire hamburger into my mouth. We did a take and it was obviously really hard — bun and all, I had to shove the whole thing into my mouth! We did a take, and the director said to the prop lady, “Was that the small, medium or large burger?” It was the small. “Can we get another one?” And I go, “Hey! I understand that Ron could get the whole slab of a cow in his mouth and pull out a bone like Fred Flintstone, but I’m an actor in the physical world!” [Laughs.] There’s only so much grub I can cram into my mouth!

Check out our Top 50 TV Characters, 20-11, featuring a sword-wielding 9-year-old and a Trouble Tones teen.

People will also ask me … there’s this one episode where Ron makes an Irish harp in one night after drinking an enormous amount of whiskey. People will say to me — and this is the power of TV — did you really do that? [Laughs.] No! No one can really do that! That’s ridiculous! It’s a hilarious comedy! Even my brother who works in my shop with me, there’s one episode where I’m carving a chunk of wood, and in the next scene there’s a big, wooden swan that I’ve ostensibly carved in about 40 minutes. And my brother said, “Did you really carve that?” [Laughs.] He’s familiar with my work! He’s familiar with my method! It would take me a day and a half if I hustled. For shame!

MTV: “Parks and Rec” is one of the funniest shows on TV. I think a lot of that owes to the fact that, obviously, the writing is incredible, but the cast is so strong. These characters play off each other so well. What’s that dynamic like on set, four seasons into the game?

Offerman: It’s so fun. We never stop talking about how lucky we are that we get to do this for pay. We’re shooting an episode this week where the whole cast is in a recording studio recording a song for Andy Dwyer. That situation is so goddamn enjoyable, and everybody gets to add their flavor to this incredibly steamy goulash that we’re serving. It’s so fun to look around and watch one person after another hit a home run.

Don’t miss our Top 10 Characters of 2011, including a “Jersey Shore” guidette and a real daughter of New Jersey.

MTV: Final question for you: We know what Ron’s capacity is … but what is the most bacon and eggs you’ve ever eaten?

Offerman: Gosh … I’d have to go back to my youth when my dad and I would have bacon and eggs every morning. I’d say five eggs, and I take those over medium, and close to a pound of bacon.

MTV: Wow.

Offerman: I can pack it away, but my capacity pales in comparison to Mr. Swanson. Only Ron Swanson could stomach all of the eggs and bacon you have.

MTV will reveal the best artists, songs and movies of the year. Come to MTV News each day to see more big reveals and check out more of MTV’s Best of 2011 music, TV, movies and news coverage.

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Kris Humphries Opens Up About Kim Kardashian Split

Posted by MTV News On December - 9 - 2011

‘I’m just moving forward,’ basketball player said Friday on ‘Good Morning America.’
By Jocelyn Vena


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Kris Humphries on “Good Morning America”


Photo: ABC News

Kris Humphries has remained relatively low-key since his split from Kim Kardashian, but the basketball player sat down with -divorce-youve-got-to-move-forward/" >“Good Morning America” on Friday (December 9) to finally speak out about his divorce from the reality starlet.

“For me, it’s just certain things happen in life and you’ve got to move forward,” he said. “Through everything I’m just focused on family and preparing for basketball. Basketball has always been something I’ve taken really serious and I continue to do that and I’m just moving forward.”

While the couple, who had been married for 72 days before they confirmed their split in October, are no longer together, their relationship is playing out on the current season of “Kourtney & Kim Take New York.”

“I can’t say for sure or not for sure [if the cameras hurt my marriage],” Humphries said on “GMA.” “It’s the only time I’ve been married. I’ve been in the NBA since I was 19 years old, but it’s a different level.

“I’m focused on just what I can control. I don’t really play into all the gossip and things that take place, but that’s life,” continued the currently free agent, who also has a foundation dedicated to fighting childhood obesity. “I’ve been doing a lot of things with my foundation and spending time with my family and working on my game. Hopefully I’ll be on a team soon and get ready to go.”

Humphries, who recently filed for annulment after Kim filed for divorce, also baked cookies on the show with his mom and kept most of his talk about Kim and the split focused on the here and now and not so much on the events that led to the split.

“Really right now I’m focused on basketball and other things will take care of themselves. It’s a great day for the NBA and the fans,” he said. “The only things I watch on TV of myself is playing basketball.
I’ve never really been one to watch the show on TV. For me my focus is just basketball, my foundation, my family and moving through life.”

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Christopher Nolan Unveils ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Prologue

Posted by MTV News On December - 9 - 2011

A lucky audience got a glimpse at director’s nearly seven-minute clip, in which Bane proves as fearsome as Batman fans have hoped.
By Kara Warner


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“The Dark Knight Rises” movie poster


Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

LOS ANGELES — If you happened to be in or around the IMAX theater at Universal City Walk Thursday night, there’s a decent chance you may have been privy to the collective fangasm (some shock and awe) generated by the lucky audience invited to screen the prologue for Christopher Nolan’s third Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Nolan was on hand himself to introduce the nearly seven-minute clip, which he described as, basically, the opening sequence, with a few out-of-order bonus shots thrown in at the end. The director also emphasized his love for IMAX technology, explaining that even though it was probably developed before he was born, it is “far and away the best imaging format created,” and it’s one that allows fans to experience the grandeur of old Hollywood films, which Nolan said is “slowly being chipped away.” At the special screening, he encouraged fans to seek out official IMAX screens for a fully immersive experience when “Rises” opens next summer, but not to inquire about the plot of the film.

“I’ve barely started to edit, so don’t ask me about the ending,” he joked just before the lights in the theater dimmed.

Check out “The Dark Knight Rises” Viral Survival Guide!

In the interest of preserving the mystery of the movie, Warner Bros. politely asked journalists in attendance to refrain from giving blow-by-blow reactions, a request MTV News is happy to heed. What we can say is that the action in the opening sequence occurs mostly on a plane and that it features several high-flying, mind-blowing special effects of the practical, not the CG, variety. The sequence seems to pick up right where “The Dark Knight” leaves off — Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent’s funeral — and, most important, features one of the more memorable character introductions we’ve seen of late as viewers got the first look at Tom Hardy in action as Bane, complete with creepy leather face mask.

There are government agents, military personnel and civilians involved in the setup, but it’s all eyes on Bane. And if what we see him say and do in the first few minutes is representative of his villainous arc in the full-length feature, it’s clear that Nolan is venturing into more ominous territory in “Rises.” Where Heath Ledger’s unforgettable Joker was dark, twisted and almost whimsically crazy, Hardy’s Bane is a horrific, maniacal force. That’s apparent whenever the camera locks onto his eyes or when he speaks for the first time, revealing a garbled, aggressive German accent. Bane will no doubt prove a formidable force to be reckoned with, and we can’t help but anticipate his first meeting with Batman.

Speaking of Batman, the caped crusader, played of course by Christian Bale, makes his first appearance in a few quick clips at the very end, along with new additions Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Dark Knight Rises.”

For breaking news and previews of the latest comic book movies — updated around the clock — visit SplashPage.MTV.com.

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