‘True Blood’ musical aims to take a bite out of Broadway

Alan Ball, the creator of “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood,” revealed over the weekend that the long-rumored musical version of his vampire series is “pretty good.”

Ten years have passed since “True Blood” premiered on HBO. Its cast has gone on to do many things — but the basic plot has been fashioned into a musical by composer Nathan Barr, who worked on the original series among many others.

“It tells the story of vampires coming out of the closet,” Ball told his audience at the Vulture Festival in Los Angeles.

“Ultimately it really departs from the book, because people aren’t ready, and they’re too bigoted and they end up going back into the closet.”

The planned musical has been in the works for four years. It’s not clear whether Ball will be involved. His most recent series for HBO, the disastrous “Here and Now,” was canceled after its first season earlier this year.

Ball, who also has an Oscar for writing the screenplay for “American Beauty,” also delighted fans at the festival with casting outtakes from the “True Blood” almanac.

Among the stars who tried for roles on the series: Benedict Cumberbatch, who auditioned for the key role of Bill, the vampire ultimately played by Stephen Moyer. Jessica Chastain tried out for the role of Sookie Stackhouse, which went to Anna Paquin.

Hollywood darling Jennifer Lawrence read for a Season 3 role as a “were-panther,” but producers decided she was ultimately too young — Lawrence was only 17 at the time — to play the girlfriend of Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten).

This new ‘Grinch’ is too weak to steal Christmas

This “Grinch” is for snowflakes — and not the speck of ice the tiny town of Whoville is situated on. It’s best for kids and adults who just can’t handle the angry, diabolical monster of films past.

In this new, totally unnecessary version of Dr. Seuss’ holiday favorite, the mean one (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) isn’t all that scary or cruel. He strolls around town just like anybody else.

Those kindly Whos look at him not as a fearsome mountain dweller, but as a cranky neighbor.

The story is roughly the same as the 1966 cartoon and the 2000 Jim Carrey movie.

Christmastime is here, and Mr. Grinch can’t bear the caroling, the gifting and the general pleasantness, so he plans to rob every home of Santa’s presents. But little Cindy Lou Who gets in his way.

The best part is Max, the Grinch’s trusty dog, who’s cuter than ever. But it’s not called “How the Pooch Stole Hearts.”

‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ will make you both crack up and cry

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” follows the favorite format of family movies today: Let the kids lap it up, while the parents quietly sob into their sleeves at the emotional storylines.

Like “Toy Story 3,” “Inside Out” and “Up” before it, the touching “Wreck-it Ralph” sequel is filled with cute characters children will adore, but it’s also a sneaky therapy session for older folks. The latest tough topic: Growing apart from your friends.

I’m not crying — you’re crying!

This time we’re back at Litwak’s Family Fun Center & Arcade where Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are still holding court in their video games during the day and palling around with other characters at night. But Vanellope, looking to spice up her dusty racing routine, accidentally lets her driving game’s steering wheel get broken by a confused player.

Game-less and desperate, Vanellope is accompanied by Ralph into the wild World Wide Web in an attempt to buy a replacement part from — where else? — eBay! First though, how to infiltrate WiFi …

“Wifey?” Vanellope says. “It’s either Wiffle ball or an arranged marriage game.” Once inside the internet, beautifully envisioned as an endless Tokyo-like metropolis, the cleverness of “Ralph” comes out to play.

Technology can be tough to toss into kids’ movies. The way “The Emoji Movie” did it was cynical and cold. The web of “Ralph,” however, has smarts and soul.

The film’s most fabulous scene finds Vanellope stumbling into the green room of a “Which Disney Princess are You?” quiz, where she meets Ariel, Belle, Mulan and other cartoon royalty in street clothes. The whole satirical sequence is a hoot.

The movie’s main conflict comes from paying for the steering wheel, as video game characters don’t have salaries. So, the pair tries a series of get-rich-quick schemes that are familiar pop-ups on our browsers: playing games to make money and making viral videos.

In an effort to make a buck stealing a valuable car for a high-rolling user, Vanellope hops into the driver’s seat of a video game called “Slaughter Race,” which takes place in the most grotesque, violent and unlivable city you can imagine. She loves it in a sort of “the pavement is always grimier on the other side” way.

That’s when cracks start to appear in this friendship — and the film, itself.

The climactic scene, in both story concept and design, is too complicated and peculiar for my tastes. But until that short blip, co-directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore’s (“Zootopia”) film is supremely intelligent, and Reilly and Silverman once again give deep-feeling vocal performances.