‘Spartacus: Vengeance’ Looks Appropriately Bloody

There are lots of swords in the trailer for Spartacus: Vengeance, some of them in slow motion. There are bodies bumping and grinding, plenty of washed out scenery, bunches of Braveheart-styled dialogue about freedom and, in case you forgot, Lucy Lawless. And the blood? There is lots of blood. It looks like a ripping time, sure to be entertaining in a dependable way upon its January 27 premiere. 

Vengeance follows last year’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand, a hit for Starz partially in thanks to the gratuitous gore and sex that filled almost every episode. There was a story in there too, about slave rebellion and destiny and all that, but as was the case with other gladiator-styled action fests like 300 and Immortals, all it takes is a bunch of jacked dudes with swords to get it popping. 

Production on a second season was delayed, however, by the tragic death of Andy Whitfield due to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Whitfield played the titular Spartacus, so replacing him was no short order. Newcomer Liam McIntyre seems to replicate Whitfield’s buzz cut/square jaw reasonably well, so there you go. The trailer opens up with a line that feels referential to Whitfield’s passing: "We have all suffered losses of those close to us" before getting into the goods. Not too many shows replace their lead actors after just a season (or at all), so it’ll be intriguing if they can pull it off.

The 19 Worst ‘Maxim’ Cover Models of All Time

Over the last two decades, Maxim has featured a bevy of beauties on its covers, from Hollywood starlets to sexy female sports stars. But like the unfortunate souls found on Playboy’s worst cover-girl list, Maxim does suffer the occasional miscast. Although it may be interesting to see Fergie in a bra, even the mag’s target audience might think twice about incorporating her into one’s genteel nighttime fantasies. But Fergie’s hardly the only gal who maybe didn’t turn in her best work fronting for Maxim.


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image 1. Lucy Lawless (April 1999) – Stunning during her tenure as Xena: Warrior Princess, and would probably be a strong contender for the upcoming Wonder Woman film were she still in her prime. Suffice to say, it isn’t Lucy’s looks that landed her on this list; rather, it’s the Xena thing. That role was a feminist’s wet dream, reaching new levels of man-hating with each subsequent episode. Even if we were willing to look beyond that (which we’re not), the appearance of Xena in a men’s magazine contradicts her cultivated image as a feminist icon. What it ultimately boils down to is that this spread isn’t arousing unless you like having your nuts crunched.


2. Melissa Joan Hart (October, 1999) – Most children of the 90s remember her from Nickelodeon’s Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. It’s that nostalgia factor which makes it impossible to look at Melissa Joan Hart without recalling some of our more awkward pre-pubescent moments. For those of us who were already adults during the early 90s, it’s even harder to look at her without feeling like a dirty old man.

image 3. Lara Flynn Boyle (December 1999) – On this cover, Lara Flynn Boyle looks like she’s battling (or embracing) an impressive cocaine habit and a severe eating disorder. Who knows what got trimmed off or slimmed down in Photoshop, but still, time for a sammich.


4. Helena Bonham Carter (August 2001) – There are lots of women out there with looks that walk the fine line between strange and hot. Helena Bonham Carter is one of them. Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk characterized Marla Singer, the character Carter played in the film version, as having “big eyes the way they have in Japanese animation.” Not only does Tim Burton’s longtime partner and muse aptly match this description, but her spread in Maxim probably fulfilled every necrophiliac’s fantasy.

image 5. Christina Aguilera (January 2003) – Despite her superior vocal skills, Christina Aguilera was always eclipsed by her former rival, Britney Spears. In a desperate attempt to surpass her, Aguilera bronzed her skin, sported a skunk tail, and left little else to the imagination. The end result left her looking more like an Orange County douchette than an A-list pop star. While her album, Stripped, was commercially and critically a hit, her Maxim spread was a sad afterthought.

image 6. Shania Twain (June 2003) – Faith Hill was hot back in the day, but we draw the line there when it comes to country musicians. Shania Twain isn’t at all bad looking, but she doesn’t belong on the cover of Maxim. Besides, she was pushing 40 by the time the magazine came to print — gasp! — and to be honest, she was always more the marrying type than ideal cover skank.


7. Michelle Branch (January 2004) – At the height of her success, Michelle Branch packed more talent than most of her Autotuned counterparts. Yet, while attractive, she was hardly a sex symbol. Her Maxim appearance seemed like a disconnect with her otherwise wholesome image, as she’s no Britney or Paris otherwise.

image 8. Marge Simpson (April 2004) – Readers flip through Maxim to ogle at ‘shopped flesh and blood, not pen and ink. Though give Maxim props for a novel idea that Playboy ripped off five years later. Still, if we were into cartoon poon, we’d buy stocking up on hentai.

image 9. Avril Lavigne (October 2004) – Like most commercially successful female artists, she’s a good-looking girl. But her mall-safe version of sk8er punk makes her both a little young and a little twee, even for Maxim.


10. Girls of The Apprentice (December 2004) – Bottom of the barrel time, and that’s saying something. Really, what can be said about highlighting the questionable charms of a reality show that favorably depicts Donald Trump’s business acumen by comparing it with even lesser lights such as these? Even Snooki would be preferable.

image 11. Nicky Hilton (August 2005) – As if one Hilton sister wasn’t enough. If Nicky was looking to outdo Paris, then she should have done a sex tape, not a photo shoot.

image 12. Nicolette Sheridan (November 2005) – After multiple plastic surgeries, Nicolette resembles a tightly taxidermized otter. Plus, Maxim readers generally steer clear of Lifetime and Desperate Housewives.

image 13. Haylie Duff (January 2006) – Much like Nicky Hilton, Haylie Duff is the celebrity sister that nobody knew existed. While Hillary Duff has made a lucrative career as a tween idol, most readers are probably unable to remember any of Haylie’s films besides Napoleon Dynamite (2004). Her appearance in Maxim was yet another attempt to ride the coattails of her sister’s fame.


14. Lacey Chabert (January 2007) – Claudia from Party of Five grew up and really filled out. Unfortunately, most people remember Lacey as the little sister with the annoyingly screechy voice. As scorchingly hot as she grew up to be, looking at her in that way felt like acknowledging a younger cousin’s new boobs.


15. Fergie (April 2007) – Most people’s gut reaction to Fergie is that she’s good looking for her age. Sadly, this compliment crumbles when you find out she’s only 32. That’s what happens when you supposedly have a forehead lift, breast augmentation, nose job, and extreme Botox. The end result comes uncomfortably close to a West Hollywood tranny.

image 16. Sarah Silverman (June 2007) – While we love Sarah for making us laugh and for being one of the few attractive comedians out there, she could have shown more skin for her Maxim cover. What photographer thought it would be a good idea for her to pose in the remnants of a gorilla suit? No furries.


17. Lindsay Lohan (September 2007) – Oh Lindsay, how far you’ve fallen from your glory days as a Mean Girl. Her appearance in Maxim was clearly nothing more than a desperate attempt to revive her floundering career. To make matters worse, she looked less like the Lindsay we briefly loved and more like Amy Winehouse’s heroin buddy.


18. Heidi Montag (February 2008) – Someday, decades from now, someone will have to explain to the children just who Heidi Montag was — and that no, the pre- and post-surgery Heidis are not two different people. Note near identical similarity to Lara Flynn Boyle’s oh-it’s-ok-that-you’re-looking-at-my-butt pose above.


19. Ashley Greene (November 2009) – You may not care, but Ashley Greene had a role in Twilight. One supposes that enough unfortunate straight males were dragged to the movie by their significant others that they vaguely recognize her on the cover of Maxim, and hence impulse-buy.

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Week in Divas: Baby Spice Pimps Bread, Anne Hathaway’s First-Date Fears

imageWith most media outlets are still milking yesterday’s plane crash in the Hudson for pageviews (so tasteful, NY Post!), it makes more sense instead to dwell on the pathologies of prima donnas. It’s a victimless pastime. So let’s just get down to it.

● So what do you do after you and your former bandmates have staged an extensive world tour, netted over $10 million apiece, and continue to collect a check time each time one of your anthems is played on a commercial? Do you stage a second reunion? Not if you’re Baby Spice. Instead, you get an unflattering haircut and sell bread. [Mad.co.uk]

● Thanks for saving 30 Rock, Sarah Palin! [Gawker]

Britney Spears is rehearsing for her Circus tour. And she’s leaked the photos just to prove it. [Pink Is The New Blog]

● That should make her too busy to take note of how a vandal has been wreaking havoc across Berlin, defacing promotional posters of pop stars like her. The vandal’s kind of like Poster Boy, but does her art in the spirit of indignant feministing. Forgivable, however, is the defacement of the Leona Lewis poster. [Jezebel]

● Le sigh. Boy George is jail-bound for holding a hooker hostage. Whatever happened to the gentle days of “Karma Chameleon,” man? [Reuters]

● Anne Hathaway apparently gets nervous on first dates. I suppose I would have trust issues too if I had dated this guy. [ShowbizSpy]

Confirmed: Amy Winehouse, recently spotted traipsing across the beach, isn’t caught in a downward spiral. She just wants to have fun. [Perez Hilton]

● Sapphic serial The L Word returns this Sunday for its final outing. This marks the last time when we’ll have the original Foxy Brown coming into our living rooms on a weekly basis. And hopefully the last time she’ll have to recite some of the clunkiest “urban dialogue” ever written. Also, Lucy Lawless stars in the premiere! So the universe does make sense. [The Futon Critic]

● … and it continues do so. Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna decide to meet for a spell today. Perhaps to swap tips on how to improve their Savasanas. [Just Jared]