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Massapequa's Matt Bennett: Soon, big star


matt Photo Credit: nick



   This Saturday - which would be tomorrow night - there's a new show on Nick. It's called "Victorious" and I suspect you will like it, if "you" happen to be fifteen, and actually know who "Victoria Justice" is.

 If you do not, please go on with your day and have a pleasant weekend.

 But here's the thing: There's a guy in the show who is from Massapequa Park.

 In fact, he's not just some "guy" but a superstar in the making; I'm building you up, so do not disappoint me, Matt.

 In any case, Matt Bennett plays a member of the ensemble of core actors on this show which will undeniably be a hit because of a.) Justice;  b.) the creative force behind it, notably Dan Schneider; my review is posted below; c.) Matt Bennett.

 More on Matt: He's 18, graduated from Massapequa High in '08, and ye shall know him in the show by the dummy he carries and the glasses he wears.

 But already I'm typing too much. Here's his description from the show's website:

"Robbie is a shy and awkward student at Hollywood Arts, so it makes sense that he is more comfortable speaking through a "dummy." Robbie is a master ventriloquist and Rex is his alter ego his and very hip companion.

 MATT BENNETT: Matt's acting education began with the Long Island-based "Way Off Broadway" acting company. He first performed, alongside Carly Simon, with "The Yard", an acclaimed artists colony in Martha's Vineyard. He continued studying acting with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York and soon began working in voiceover and commercials. Most recently, he guest starred in the premiere of Comedy Central's "Michael & Michael Have Issues." He also co-wrote and starred in the short film, "Text Me," for which he also composed and performed the original music."

UCB, on W.26th, is a pretty big deal, by the way - an excellent improv theater which has received a ton of good press over the years; per New  York: "New York's hardest-working sketch comics."

 So, Matt has effectively gone to the Harvard, or at least Princeton, of improvs.

 And he's just 18.

 Had a nice chat earlier.

  Said he, "I just auditioned for [the part of Robbie]. I was...a complete nobody but I had what they needed. [Also] I had seen a lot of Dan Schneider shows...and that helped me get the part. I was able to feel I knew what he wanted that character to do. So that's a good
message to the kids out there: Watching TV is not a waste of time if you want to be an actor."

 (Ed. note: However, it is a big waste of time if you spend your days and nights watching the four-season DVD set of "The Hills," or have suddenly gotten into "High Society," in which case you may need professional help.)

  More from Matt/Robbie: "I wanted to be an inventor until I was in fifth grade, then I didn't know what I wanted to be, then I met a girl"...cue to the violins..."She was really into acting, So I thought, OK, I'll give it a try. I played Benjamin in 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'...then started taking classes..."

 And now just to fastforward this story, starting Saturday night, Matt will be world-famous.

 Don't you love Hollywood stories with happy endings?

 But seriously: Matt's a good kid, and good actor, and he steals the whole show.

 Check out da clip...

Clip from Nickelodeon's Victorious from NickPress; on Vimeo.


THE SHOW "Victorious"

WHEN | WHERE Saturday at 9:30 p.m. on Nickelodeon

REASON TO WATCH Live-action sitcom with musical elements, and, of course, you're thinking "High School Musical" and "Hannah Montana" and should. Sony Music is the coproduction partner, so Nick will also be looking for some iTunes love shortly.

STARRING Victoria Justice, who played Lola on the Nick hit "Zoey 101." Justice is considered a triple threat - can sing, act and dance.

WHAT THE SHOW'S ABOUT Tori (Justice) is a bubbly, sweet, pretty teen whose older sister, Trina (Daniella Monet), is the family drama queen and attends a performing arts school called Hollywood Arts. Trina's got a voice to match her personality - big and brassy - but preparing to enter the "Showcase" performance competition, her tongue swells to three times its normal size. Tori is called in last second and, naturally, she's brilliant.

Longish story shortened: She gets an automatic admission to Hollywood Arts, where her classmates range from the neurotic - like Cat (Ariana Grande) - to the cute - like Beck (Avan Jogia), whose girlfriend is an Alpha Female with a not-nice streak. Andre (Leon Thomas) is her guardian angel offering protection from this flaky, vainglorious crew.

MY SAY "Victorious" arrives with a sight-unseen rep as Nick's most important launch this year, which is a terrible rep to have. Stealth launches are vastly preferred in the cruel little hothouse of teen TV because too much heat can make the audience feel like it has been manipulated and - surprise! - it usually is.

But the hype for "Victorious" is understandable. Justice has been labeled the Next Big Thing since "Zoey" and "Spectacular!," Nick's '09 answer to the Disney Channel's "HSM." Plus, the show is produced by Dan Schneider, teen TV's reigning champ, who can't seem to touch an idea without turning it into an unwieldy pile of cash for Nick - "iCarly" being the most recent evidence.

BOTTOM LINE Schneider's strong suit is fully evident here, with the fast, smart, inventive dialogue, and the pilot closes with an especially sharp and funny riff on "alphabet improv." Justice is good, too, as the guileless, good-hearted kid sis with real talent. The problem is the show itself - far too content to be something you've seen a dozen, a hundred, maybe a thousand times before.





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