December 31, 2008
I know we have a few hours left in 2008, but it's never too early to take a glance at '09. Paramount released it's 2009 preview. The Lovely Bones and Shutter Island (or Ashecliffe) stand out as potential Oscar films. The early release date for The Soloist will hurt it's Oscar potential, but it might be in the running, who knows? The premise for Up in the Air seems funny, and is written and directed by the same dudes that produced Thank You For Smoking. They have a few potential money makers in there too (Star Trek, GI Joe, and Transformers). Overall, the list is really balanced. I'm just glad Martin Scorsese is returning with DiCaprio. Deadly combination.
December 30, 2008
December 29, 2008
Screenwriter Eric Roth claims his "trusted investment manager," Stanley Chais, "simply handed off" his money to Madoff while collecting "enormous fees."
When he learned of his "heavy" losses last week: Roth exclaimed: "I'm the biggest sucker who ever walked the face of the Earth. The tragedy is the people who lost their life savings and their dreams."
Madoff is accused of running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme on charities, Yeshivas and high-rollers around the world, including New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon.
In papers filed in Los Angeles, Roth - also authored the screen versions of "Forrest Gump" and "The Horse Whisperer" - claims he suffered "massive losses" at the hands of Chais.
Roth, listing himself as the trustee for Vanessa Productions Ltd. profit-sharing plan, charged Chais "funneled to Madoff the billions of dollars in investment capital that he needed to perpetuate his confessed Ponzi scheme."
Roth charges Chais ignored "red flags" from other investors and hedge fund managers, investment advisers and banks that had refused to invest with Madoff's firm, BMIS.
After a long slump, Roth just hit it big again as writer of "Benjamin Button," in which the lead character ages backward - from old age to youth.
He was nominated this week for a Golden Globe.
Chais failed to conduct "reasonable due diligence" of Madoff's investment practices and the failure to diversify investments constituted "gross negligence and an egregious breach of fiduciary duties," the suit says.
Roth is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
US District Court Judge Gary Feess last week agreed with Fox that Warner Bros had infringed its copyright by developing and shooting the superhero film, scheduled for release on March 6th, 2009. Feess said that he plans to hold a trial on January 20th to decide remaining issues.
Fox claims it never fully relinquished story rights from its deal made in the late 1980s, and sued Warner Bros in February. Warner Bros contended Fox isn't entitled to distribution.
Warner Bros' attorney said Monday he didn't know if an appeal was coming, but thinks a trial is necessary and a settlement unlikely.
The pic "stands as a monument to the possibilities of cross-cultural storytelling," the American Film Institute said Sunday.
Tina Fey also picked up another laurel, with AFI dubbing her America's First Lady of Laughs for her appearances as GOP veep candidate Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live" and for her multi-tasking on her Peacock sitcom "30 Rock."
Other significant moments in 2008 included TV and new-media coverage that allowed a worldwide aud to fixate on the historic presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain and NBC's coverage of the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
The rapid changes in the TV distribution landscape were noted by AFI as being part of the "Age of Anxiety" for showbiz as traditional business models evolve. The org cited such examples as the growth of Internet website Hulu, DirecTV's funding of a third season of NBC's "Friday Night Lights" and the Peacock's decision to move Jay Leno into a Monday-Friday primetime berth.
Joss Whedon's online success with his made-for-Internet tuner "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" earned a separate nod.
On the film side, AFI noted the downturn for indie filmmakers, with specialty divisions such as Paramount Vantage, New Line, Warner Independent and Picturehouse disappearing. It also noted the loss of influence for film critics as many full-time positions were eliminated at Time, Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, Village Voice and Newsday.
"AFI celebrates the global community of film lovers interacting online, but also encourages these conversations to honor and appreciate historical context in addition to personal opinion," the org said.
AFI's "Moments of Significance" were chosen by a 13-person jury comprising scholars, film artists, critics and AFI trustees. Two juries, one for film and another for TV, deliberated for two days in Los Angeles.
AFI will honor the creatives behind these selections on Jan. 9 at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.
December 28, 2008
A self-proclaimed "sex kitten" famous for her catlike purr, Ms. Kitt was one of America's most versatile performers, winning two Emmys and nabbing a third nomination. She also was nominated for several Tonys and two Grammys.
Her career spanned six decades, from her start as a dancer with the famed Katherine Dunham troupe to cabarets and acting and singing on stage, in movies, and on television.
She persevered through an unhappy childhood as a mixed-race daughter of the South and made headlines in the 1960s for denouncing the Vietnam War during a visit to the White House.
Through the years, Ms. Kitt remained a picture of vitality and attracted fans less than half her age even as she neared 80.
When her book Rejuvenate, a guide to staying fit, was published in 2001, she was featured on the cover in a long, curve-hugging black dress with a figure that some 20-year-old women would envy. Ms. Kitt also wrote three autobiographies.
Once dubbed the "most exciting woman in the world" by Orson Welles, she spent much of her life single, though brief romances with rich and famous men peppered her younger years.
After becoming a hit singing "Monotonous" in the Broadway revue New Faces of 1952, Ms. Kitt appeared in the show Mrs. Patterson in 1954-55. (Some references say she earned a Tony nomination for Mrs. Patterson, but only winners were publicly announced then.) She also appeared in Shinbone Alley and The Owl and the Pussycat.
Her first album, RCA Victor Presents Eartha Kitt, came out in 1954, featuring such songs as "I Want to Be Evil," "C'est Si Bon" and the saucy golddigger's theme song "Santa Baby," which is revived on radio each Christmas. The next year, the record company released a follow-up album, That Bad Eartha,
In 1996, Ms. Kitt was nominated for a Grammy for traditional pop vocal performance for her album Back in Business. Previously, she was nominated for a children's recording for Folk Tales of the Tribes of Africa (1969).
In movies, Ms. Kitt played the lead female role opposite Nat King Cole in St. Louis Blues in 1958 and more recently was in Boomerang and Harriet the Spy in the 1990s.
She was the sexy Catwoman on the popular Batman TV series in 1967-68, replacing Julie Newmar, who originated the role. A guest appearance on I Spy brought her an Emmy nomination in 1966.
Ms. Kitt was plainspoken about causes she believed in. Her antiwar comments at the White House came at a luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson.
"You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed," she told the group of about 50 women. "They rebel in the street. They don't want to go to school because they're going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam."
For four years afterward, Ms. Kitt performed almost exclusively overseas. She was investigated by the FBI and CIA, which allegedly found her to be foul-mouthed and promiscuous.
"The thing that hurts, that became anger, was when I realized that if you tell the truth - in a country that says you're entitled to tell the truth - you get your face slapped and you get put out of work," she told Essence magazine two decades later.
In 1978, Ms. Kitt returned to Broadway in Timbuktu! - which brought her a Tony nomination - and was invited back to the White House by President Jimmy Carter. In 2000, she earned another Tony nod for The Wild Party.
As recently as October 2003, she was on Broadway after replacing Chita Rivera in a revival of Nine.
She was married for several years in the 1960s to developer Bill McDonald, with whom she had a daughter, Kitt. They later divorced. Ms. Kitt is survived by her daughter and two grandchildren.
December 27, 2008
James Joseph Cialella Jr., 29, of the 1900 block of Hollywood Street is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons violations.
"It's truly frightening when you see something like this evolve into such violence," said police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore.
Police were called to the Riverview Theatre in the 1400 block of Columbus Boulevard about 9:30 p.m. where the gunshot victim, a Philadelphia man who was not identified, told police a man sitting near him told his family to be quiet and threw popcorn at his son.
After exchanging words, Vanore said Cialella allegedly got out of his seat to confront the family when the father got up to protect them. That's when the victim was shot once in the left arm, sending others in the theatre running to safety.
Cialella then sat down to watch the movie. Police arrived a short time later and arrested Cialella and confiscated his weapon, Vanore said.
The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that Disney had decided not to exercise its option to partner with Walden on "Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," which has Michael Apted attached to direct.
Disney's move comes on the heels of disappointing worldwide B. O.for the second "Narnia" pic, "Prince Caspian." "Caspian," released in May, grossed $419 million worldwide, compared to a haul of $745 million for the first "Narnia" pic, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," in 2005.
Disney like other studios is also looking to be selective about its big-budget bets amid the economic downturn.
Walden execs told the Times they were "disappointed" in Disney's decision but that they remain committed to the franchise.
December 26, 2008
The decision was disclosed in a five-page written order issued on Wednesday. Gary A. Feess, a judge in the United States District Court for Central California, said he would provide a more detailed order soon.
Fox has been seeking to prevent Warner from releasing the film. The superhero adventure, based on the “Watchmen” graphic novel, is being directed by Zack Snyder (who also directed “300”) and has shaped up as one of most eagerly anticipated releases for next year.
A Warner spokesman, Scott Rowe, declined to comment on the ruling and the studio’s plans.
At an earlier hearing, the judge said he believed that issues in the case could be settled only at a trial, which was scheduled for late January. On Wednesday, however, Judge Feess said he had reconsidered and concluded that Fox should prevail on crucial issues.
“Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the ‘Watchmen’ motion picture,” the ruling said.
Fox acquired rights to the “Watchmen” graphic novel in the late 1980s for the producer Lawrence Gordon, but eventually dropped its own plan to make a movie from its story, about the underside of life for superbeings.
Mr. Gordon later pursued the project with Universal Pictures, and then with Paramount Pictures, before shooting it with Warner and Legendary under an arrangement that allows Paramount to distribute the film abroad.
In ruling on Wednesday, Judge Feess advised both Fox and Warner to look toward a settlement or an appeal.
“The parties may wish to turn their efforts from preparing for trial to negotiating a resolution of this dispute or positioning the case for review,” he said.
Pinter, whose distinctive contribution to the stage was recognized with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, died on Wednesday, according to his second wife, Lady Antonia Fraser.
"Pinter restored theater to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of each other and pretense crumbles," the Nobel Academy said when it announced Pinter's award. "With a minimum of plot, drama emerges from the power struggle and hide-and-seek of interlocution."
The Nobel Prize gave Pinter a global platform which he seized enthusiastically to denounce U.S. President George W. Bush and then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law," Pinter said in his Nobel lecture, which he recorded rather than traveling to Stockholm.
"How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand?" he asked, in a hoarse voice.
Weakened by cancer and bandaged from a fall on a slippery pavement, Pinter seemed a vulnerable old man when he emerged from his London home to speak about the Nobel Award.
Though he had been looking forward to giving a Nobel lecture - "the longest speech I will ever have made" - he first canceled plans to attend the awards, then announced he would skip the lecture as well on his doctor's advice.
Pinter wrote 32 plays; one novel, "The Dwarfs," in 1990; and put his hand to 22 screenplays including "The Quiller Memorandum" (1965) and "The French Lieutenant's Woman" (1980). He admitted, and said he deeply regretted, voting for Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and Tony Blair in 1997.
Pinter fulminated against what he saw as the overweening arrogance of American power, and belittled Blair as seeming like a "deluded idiot" in support of Bush's war in Iraq.
In his Nobel lecture, Pinter accused the United States of supporting "every right-wing military dictatorship in the world" after World War II.
"The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them," he said.
The United States, he added, "also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain."
Most prolific between 1957 and 1965, Pinter relished the juxtaposition of brutality and the banal and turned the conversational pause into an emotional minefield.
His characters' internal fears and longings, their guilt and difficult sexual drives are set against the neat lives they have constructed in order to try to survive.
Usually enclosed in one room, they organize their lives as a sort of grim game and their actions often contradict their words. Gradually, the layers are peeled back to reveal the characters' nakedness.
The protection promised by the room usually disappears and the language begins to disintegrate.
Pinter once said of language, "The speech we hear is an indication of that which we don't hear. It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, sly, and anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its true place. When true silence falls we are left with echo but are nearer nakedness. One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness."
Pinter's influence was felt in the United States in the plays of Sam Shepard and David Mamet and throughout British literature.
"With his earliest work, he stood alone in British theater up against the bewilderment and incomprehension of critics, the audience and writers too," British playwright Tom Stoppard said when the Nobel Prize was announced.
"Not only has Harold Pinter written some of the outstanding plays of his time, he has also blown fresh air into the musty attic of conventional English literature, by insisting that everything he does has a public and political dimension," added British playwright David Hare, who also writes politically charged dramas.
The working-class milieu of plays like "The Birthday Party" and "The Homecoming" reflected Pinter's early life as the son of a Jewish tailor from London's East End. He began his career in the provinces as an actor.
In his first major play, "The Birthday Party" (1958), intruders enter the retreat of Stanley, a young man who is hiding from childhood guilt. He becomes violent, telling them, "You stink of sin, you contaminate womankind."
And in "The Caretaker," a manipulative old man threatens the fragile relationship of two brothers while "The Homecoming" explores the hidden rage and confused sexuality of an all-male household by inserting a woman.
In "Silence and Landscape," Pinter moved from exploring the dark underbelly of human life to showing the simultaneous levels of fantasy and reality that equally occupy the individual.
In the 1980s, Pinter's only stage plays were one-acts: "A Kind of Alaska" (1982), "One for the Road" (1984) and the 20-minute "Mountain Language" (1988).
During the late 1980s, his work became more overtly political; he said he had a responsibility to pursue his role as "a citizen of the world in which I live, (and) insist upon taking responsibility."
In March 2005 Pinter announced his retirement as a playwright to concentrate on politics. But he created a radio play, "Voices," that was broadcast on BBC radio to mark his 75th birthday.
"I have written 29 plays and I think that's really enough," Pinter said . "I think the world has had enough of my plays."
Pinter had a son, Daniel, from his marriage to actress Vivien Merchant, which ended in divorce in 1980. That year he married the writer Fraser.
"It was a privilege to live with him for over 33 years. He will never be forgotten," Fraser said.
-Rest in Peace...
December 25, 2008
[By praise, I mean precursor wins]
December 24, 2008
Top Ten Films (listed alphabetically):
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Rachel Getting Married
Best Foreign Film: Let the Right One In, dir. Tomas Alfredso
December 23, 2008
December 22, 2008
December 21, 2008
Even before Madoff's stunning tale unfolded, 20th Century Fox had begun fast-tracking a "Wall Street" sequel. Penned by Allan Loeb ("21"), the script will pick up with Gordon Gekko, recently sprung from prison, who re-emerges into a financial world much more tumultuous and cutthroat than the one he once lorded over.
Greed is good for Michael Moore, too, who switched the focus of his next documentary from an examination of foreign policy to an expose of Wall Street crimes and misdemeanors. Moore, who is making his untitled doc in partnership with Overture and Paramount Vantage, couldn't have asked for a better villain than the Washington-connected Madoff, who is accused of bilking $50 billion from his clients, many of them charities, hospitals and trusts.
And Elevation Filmworks, the production company behind indie pics including "Sherrybaby," is developing a bigscreen adaptation of Stephen Amidon's novel "Human Capital." Published in 2004, the book, which looks at the human toll taken when a father invests all of his family's money in a mysterious hedge fund, has become eerily timely given the recent headlines. Noam Murro ("Smart People") is attached to direct.
Loeb, who is busy finishing up his latest "Wall Street 2" draft, says he has been riveted by the Madoff headlines.
"The thing that is so crazy about this story is that Ponzi schemes seem to be the simplest low-class scam," says Loeb, noting that the Madoff scandal will likely be referenced in "Wall Street 2." "But this was carried out in the highest-echelon of high-finance. You couldn't even get in to see this guy unless you had $2 million to invest."
Loeb says the Madoff case would make a great episode on "Crooked," a Fox TV show he is developing and producing that deals with white-collar crime. That is, if "Law & Order" doesn't beat him to the punch.
December 20, 2008
1. The Dark Knight
The scribe is now working on three post-"Valkyrie" projects designed as potential star vehicles for the actor.
New Regency has set McQuarrie and Mason Alley to write "Flying Tigers," based on the volunteer fighter squadron formed to help the Chinese fight the Japanese before the U.S. entered World War II.
Cruise isn't formally attached. The "Top Gun" star has long wanted to return to the skies, and several years ago was attached to "The Few," a Paramount project about the first American pilots to battle Germans in WWII, with director Michael Mann and scribe John Logan.
McQuarrie also is writing and producing with Guillermo del Toro the previously announced United Artists project "The Champions," penning the script with an eye toward hammering it into a Cruise vehicle. The British TV series transfer concerns a team of government agents rescued from a plane crash in the Himalayas by an advanced civilization and given superhuman abilities.
MGM brass has long felt that the project was UA's strongest chance for a big-ticket franchise vehicle that could star UA co-owner Cruise.
But the Cruise-McQuarrie collaboration with the most urgency is Spyglass espionage drama "The Tourist." McQuarrie is rewriting for Cruise to star with Charlize Theron in the Bharat Nalluri-directed remake of the 2005 French thriller "Anthony Zimmer." Julian Fellowes originally scripted the redo.
December 19, 2008
The "Australia" helmer has purchased the rights to "The Great Gatsby," F. Scott Fitzgerald's tome of the Roaring Twenties. While a script does not yet exist, Luhrmann intends to focus on it after "Australia's" awards run. No studio is attached yet.
Fitzgerald's novel of American excess has spawned a Broadway play and multiple films, including Jack Clayton's 1974 pic starring Robert Redford and scripted by Francis Ford Coppola.
Best Achievement in Directing
Best Lead Performance by an Actor
Best Lead Performance by an Actress
Best Supporting Performance by an Actor
Best Supporting Performance by an Actress
Best Documentary Feature
Best Non-English Language Feature
Best Animated Feature
December 18, 2008
THE ATTENBOROUGH AWARD: BRITISH FILM OF THE YEAR
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
BRITISH DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
ACTOR OF THE YEAR
ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
BRITISH ACTOR OF THE YEAR
BRITISH ACTRESS OF THE YEAR
BRITISH ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
BRITISH ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
SCREENWRITER OF THE YEAR
THE NSPCC AWARD: YOUNG BRITISH PERFORMER OF THE YEAR
BREAKTHROUGH BRITISH FILM-MAKER
DILYS POWELL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO CINEMA
BEST PICTURE: WALL-E
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Amy Adams, Doubt
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Kate Winslet, The Reader
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A CAST IN A MOTION PICTURE
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight is not looking so great. The only uncertainty is Doubt (fitting title). So, there is still hope for Revolutionary Road or the Dark Knight (maybe even Wall-E). Thoughts?
Lisa’s 5 Worst:
December 17, 2008
Best Performance by a Cast Ensemble
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Rachel Getting Married
Alternate: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Richard Jenkins-The Visitor
Brad Pitt-The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke-The Wrestler
Alternate: Clint Eastwood-Gran Torino
Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Anne Hathaway-Rachel Getting Married
Sally Hawkins-Happy Go Lucky
Kristin Scott Thomas-I've Loved You So Long
Kate Winslet-Revolutionary Road
Alternate: Angelina Jolie-Changeling
Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Robert Downey, Jr.-Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman-Doubt
Heath Ledger-The Dark Knight
Dev Patel-Slumdog Millionaire
Alternate: James Franco-Milk
Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Penelope Cruz-Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Debra Winger-Rachel Getting Married
Kate Winslet-The Reader
Alternate: Rosemarie DeWitt-Rachel Getting Married
BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN
BEST STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]
Jennifer Lumet: Rachel Getting Married
Melissa Leo: Frozen River
Mickey Rourke: The Wrestler
BEST YOUNG ACTRESS:
Abigail Breslin: Kit Kittredge and Definitely Maybe
BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS: *TIE*
Sally Hawkins: Happy-Go-Lucky
Meryl Streep: Mamma Mia!
BEST FOREIGN FILM
I've Loved You So Long
BEST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE:
The Secret Life Of Bees
BEST UNRELEASED MOVIE:
How The Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer
BEST EQUALITY OF THE SEXES:
Nothing But The Truth
BEST ANIMATED FEMALE:
BEST FAMILY FILM
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:
ACTING AND ACTIVISM:
ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women:
JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: For best expressing the woman of color experience in America:
KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity:
Battle In Seattle
COURAGE IN ACTING:
Deidra Edwards in DisFigured: For redefining conventional standards of female physical beauty and pride on screen, and promoting positive images of big bodied women.
A Walk To Beautiful
ABOVE AND BEYOND:
Wings Of Defeat
COURAGE IN FILMMAKING:
Traces Of The Trade
MOST OFFENSIVE MALE CHARACTERS
Aaron Eckhart: Towelhead
Sam Rockwell: Choke,
Larry Bishop: Hell Ride
Paul Rudd, Sean William Scott: Role Models
Jason Mewes: Zack And Miri Make a Porno
TOP TEN HALL OF SHAME
Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired
House Of The Sleeping Beauties
The Life Before Her Eyes
The Hottie and the Nottie
Made Of Honor
The Family That Preys
Zack And Miri Make A Porno
I'm glad Zack And Miri finally won something.