January 18, 2017

Articles By: Beck / Smith

Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith are among America’s leading columnists. They’ve covered the Hollywood beat for decades — Elvis and “Easy Rider” through the Jonas Bros. and “Avatar” and all the stars and their triumphs and scandals in-between. Their Creators Syndicate column, Beck/Smith Hollywood Exclusive, is a source of top celebrity interviews and entertainment news in newspapers across the country as well as online. To read more about Marylin and Stacy go to BeckSmithHollywood.com

“42” the Jackie Robinson saga, is a brilliant, straightforward telling story

When Warner Bros. “42″ hits screens April 12, the Jackie Robinson saga will slap moviegoers with a fresh take on just how accepted racism was in the U.S. back in 1947, when Robinson broke the color barrier as the first African American player admitted into Major League Baseball. That’s the word from Alan Tudyk, who plays Robinson tormentor Ben Chapman in the Brian Helgeland film that stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson, and Harrison Ford as Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey.
“It’s a very, very good telling of the story, starting with the amazing script Brian wrote,” notes the “Suburgatory” and “Firefly” actor. “He’s obviously a proven writer — ‘L.A. Confidential,’ ‘Mystic River’ and so many things. This is a brilliant, straightforward telling of this story. People who know the history and the trivia of this time are going to like it because it’s an accurate portrayal. A lot of the quotes known from this story are in the movie.
“I certainly wasn’t aware of the extent of the abuse Jackie had to take and how different the country was,” Tudyk admits. “Racism was very openly accepted as a form of humor — blackface, things like that. In that atmosphere, the things that were considered offensive are just completely outrageous. To my ears and my eyes in 2013, it was amazing, what he had to put up with and how he had to meet all the threats against him. He couldn’t react.”
Tudyk’s character, outfielder-turned-Phillies Manager Ben Chapman, was among the biggest thorns in Robinson’s side — opposing integration and instructing his players to bean him with the ball at every good opportunity.
“He goes out on the field and calls Jackie every name in the book. Then he catches grief for it from the press and gets called out for being a racist. Then, in an effort to save face, he asks Jackie — or, that is, he tells Jackie — that he wants to take a publicity picture with him out on the field before they play the next time. So Jackie agrees to go out and take pictures with this guy, who has been such an ass to him. He’s the bigger man. And then, even when he goes out on the field to do this favor for him, Ben Chapman won’t shake his hand! They’re like, ‘Shake his hand.’ And he’s like, ‘I’m not touching his hand.’ There’s a famous […]

The Burnetts and the History Channel are putting their all into pulling viewers into “The Bible”

Roma Downey and Mark Burnett are bracing themselves for reaction to their ambitious, 10- hour History Channel adaptation of the Bible that launches this Sunday night (3/3) and runs through Easter. “I’m sure people will hurl what they want to hurl,” the “Touched by an Angel” actress told us. But, she added, the miniseries was made “with full hearts.”
Certainly the Burnetts and the History Channel are putting their all into pulling viewers into “The Bible,” with a full court press of promotion including: advance screenings in theaters and sports arenas; plugs from faith leaders including Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes and Maya Angelou; a huge array of support materials available to churches and individuals; a webinar; a You Tube video in which Roma asks believers to pray for the miniseries; even a kit for hosing Bible viewing parties (http://www.outreach.com/campaigns/the-bible-resources).
“We’ve had scholars and theologians help. We’re not pretending to be biblical experts,” she stressed. “We brought experts in once the scripts were created to take a look at the scripts to make sure we were accurate and true to the Bible, but obviously we’re making a movie, and so we breathed creative expansion into that.”
Roma is hoping the TV event will attract the faithful and those unfamiliar with the Bible alike. “Yes, it’s going to be a faith journey, but it’s also going to be really exciting and dynamic television,” as she put it. The filmmakers were able to bring up-to-the-minute CGI special effects artistry to familiar stories from Noah’s ark and Moses’ parting of the Red Sea to Jesus walking on water — “Genesis to Revelation.”
The intensity of their belief in this project is such that Burnett told Variety, “I am certain that if you took ‘Survivor,’ ‘The Voice,’ ‘Shark Tank,’ ‘The Apprentice’ and all the other shows I’ve done, over the next 25 years more people will see ‘The Bible’ miniseries than all those other projects combined.”
Roma is seen in the miniseries as well as serving as an executive producer along with her husband. She plays Mary, mother of Jesus, in scenes depicting the final chapters of his life story.
“We have a young actress of course playing Mary during the nativity and the early years of Jesus’ life, and 30 years go by. An early version of the script referred to that as Young Mary and Old Mary and when I stepped into […]

Tom Cruise Years of Doubt and Skepticism

HollywoodNews.com: Tom Cruise may have been blindsided by Katie Holmes’ divorce papers, but we – the media and the public – were more than ready. Rarely has a Hollywood couple drawn more skepticism, from the moment they revealed their togetherness.
Going back to the dawning of their relationship in 2005, the folks at Us magazine polled their readers, you may recall, and found more than 60 percent believed Cruise’s romance with the 16-years-younger Holmes was a fake. Even when the couple got engaged, many simply didn’t buy it.
Perhaps it was the crass, overblown, smells-like-a-publicity-stunt way in which Cruise and Holmes proclaimed their mutual affection on the eve of his ‘n’ hers summer blockbusters — “Batman Begins” and “War of the Worlds.” Remember? He made his proposal at — but of course — the Eiffel Tower the Friday before her “Batman Begins” opened.
The Cruise-Holmes relationship hit a new level of intensity, even for Hollywood. With unconfirmed reports that Tom was so obsessed and controlling that he gave Katie a GPS-equipped cell phone so he could know where she was at all times, fans began snapping up “Free Katie” t-shirts.
The ranks of TomKat supporters have been comparatively slim.
But there were doubting Tom’ers long before Katie came along. Despite his marriages to Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman, some – okay, many people refused to believe Cruise was interested in romance for anything other than appearances.
His relationship with Penelope Cruz was met with the same kind of disbelief as his relationship with Holmes. As Us put it in 2001, after Cruise and Cruz were seen dining together at the ultra high profile Spago restaurant: “…There was something about the typically secretive Cruise announcing a new relationship to the world that made some people suspicious.”
And one wary columnist noted, “Tom Cruise…doesn’t do anything that doesn’t have a reason.”
Some suggested that the sudden Public Displays of Affection between Cruise ‘n’ Cruz were really Tom’s way of throwing the press pack off following the machinations of his and Nicole Kidman’s divorce settlement, which appeared to be becoming contentious at the time.
Despite all the nay-sayers, Tom and Penelope lasted into 2003. Reports surfaced that a plan for a Valentine’s Day wedding had been postponed due to Penelope’s worries about a rumored relationship between Tom and Colombian actress/model Sofia Vergara – but those were denied, of course.
Tom and the beauty who […]

Mary Murphy: Ex-Manager Probably to Blame

HollywoodNews.com: The internet has been abuzz with reports that Mary Murphy is en route out of “So You Think You Can Dance,” and Mia Michaels is returning to replace her. Don’t believe them, according to Murphy. “Whatever you hear this entire summer, it’s probably going to come from my ex-manager,” she tells us. “And you’re probably going to keep hearing things too, because we’re in a legal matter and it’s all about money. It has nothing to do with Fox, nothing to do with Mia Michaels.”
The ebullient dance icon with the 20 megaton laugh isn’t laughing when she adds that “managers taking money from people is the oldest story in the book in this business, but I never thought it would happen to me.”
She’s determined not to be “one of those people who pay someone to go away. That’s not me. I’m Irish. I’m in it for the long haul.” She talks about taking her case to court, where, she declares, she is confident she would win.
But in the meantime, Murphy says she won’t be surprised if there’s some sort of new flap every week just before she goes on the air on “SYTYCD” — which is now into this season’s live performance episodes.
Photo Courtesy becksmithhollywood.com
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“In Plain Sight” – Mary McCormack and her issues

HollywoodNews.com: Talk about a fast job switch. While Mary McCormack and her “In Plain Sight” team were in their final days of filming the fifth and last season of her popular USA series, the actress was also fielding occasional long-distance calls about the ABC comedy pilot she’ll be shooting April 24.
Among the issues: whether Mary should have a different hairstyle for the new show — in which she’ll play a newly-unemployed corporate executive trying to adapt to full-time parenting of her two teenaged children. If so, what should the new look be? She tells us, “We haven’t made that decision. After six years it does seem like time to give myself a change.”
And that applies to much more than her appearance. Her schedule this past week has included the “In Plain Sight” wrap party and three final days of shooting in Albuquerque, NM, where the show is based. Now she and her husband, producer-director Michael Morris, and their three young daughters are getting ready to leave New Mexico.
“It will take us awhile to move. The kids are in school here. We have packing and goodbyes. It is bittersweet, sad to leave a part of your life,” Mary notes. “It’s a great crew down here. We’re going to miss people. But on the sweet side, there’s more time with my kids to look forward to. They’re little. I want to spend more time with them while they’re still small.”
Yet, she’s going right into another show. “But it’s totally different. A multi-camera show schedule is so much better for a mom,” Mary points out. “It’s such an easy schedule compared to what I’ve been doing.”
The comedy (working title: “The Unprofessional”) has a cast including Greg Germann and Mo Gaffney. “I’ve never done this kind of show before, so I’m nervous,” she says. “But it’s good to get scared.”
Filming the ending scene of “In Plain Sight” “was emotional,” she admits. “But we saved time for it. We had hours.”
Stephen Lang will soon be seen on the show as the long-absent, career criminal father of Mary’s U.S. Marshal character, Mary Shannon. Also, as followers of the Friday night show are aware, Shannon now has her baby daughter and an apparently cordial relationship with the infant’s father. And there is her partner, […]

“Mad Men” – January Jones Takes Time Out

By Beck/Smith
HollywoodNews.com: January Jones expects to keep her schedule clear for awhile to focus on all her attention on her precious guy in life — that guy being her six-month-old son, Xander.
“I promised myself I wouldn’t take any work after we wrapped unless it was something special,” says the blond beauty of “Mad Men” – which returned for its long-awaited fifth season on AMC last week. “Kids are only babies for a year so I only want to be with him, and get some rest. There’ve been a lot of sleepless nights. I went back to work quite soon after I had him,” she notes.
One would not guess she’d recently had a baby by looking at the spectacular actress. As far as having a rigorous workout routine, she says she does not. I fact, “I haven’t done any exercises yet. I want to get back into yoga. I did a lot while I was pregnant, but haven’t done any since.” She supposes her slimness has to do with “not having time to eat, and running around breast feeding. Also, my mom’s very petite; I’ve got good genes.”
The Emmy-laden drama finished shooting for the season two months ago. January had pink highlights put into her hair prior to new season premiere events – and fashion-following crowd took note appropriately.
“It’s fun. I have fun. I’m a girl. I like to do silly things sometimes and I love to be able to experiment with things. I wanted to be able to wake up in the morning and smile at my hair. You know, as a mom you don’t get a lot of sleep. I wanted to feel something to feel kind of girly and excited about. A little retail therapy goes a long way. Pink streaks go a long way – or, rose gold highlights.”
MEANWHILE: January feels as if her Betty Draper Francis has been like a different character in each of the show’s seasons. She credits creator Matthew Weiner for “taking Betty on a different journey each year. He does that for all the characters, that’s the beauty of his writing.”
Photos by PRPhotos
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Tony Dovolani Bonding With Martina Navratilova

By Beck/Smith
HollywoodNews.com: “Dancing With the Stars” pro Tony Dovolani has had a wide variety of celebrity partners through the past 13 seasons of the ABC show, returning Monday (3/19) but never one he’s felt more in common with than Martina Navratilova.
“We completely relate on every level,” Tony declares. “We’re both living the American Dream. After coming here from other countries, we both love the American way. We’ve both competed for the U.S. in international competitions.”
Dovolani came here from his native Kosovo at age 15, and is certainly at home here. “Put it this way. My kids are totally American,” he says. His many achievements outside “DWTS” include 2005 and 2006 World Rhythm Championships. Of course, 59-time Grand Slam title winner Navratilova also came here as a teen; she famously asked the U.S. for political asylum at age 18 and was subsequently stripped of her Czechoslovakian citizenship.
Beyond the shared Eastern European roots and elite competitions, Dovolani deeply admirers Navratilova on a personal level. Asked how she compares to past partners such as Chynna Phillips, Wendy Williams, Jane Seymour, Kate Gosselin and Melissa Rycroft, he points out, “None of the others have gone through what she’s gone through. She has a different soul, a different way,” he adds of Navratilova, who is also a breast cancer survivor. “It’s not just that she’s a gay activist, but she came out at a young age at a time very few people came out, and she said, ‘Accept me for me.’”
As the Health and Fitness Ambassador for AARP since 2007, again Navratilova is challenging social barriers. In fact, she’s made it clear that one of the reasons she is taking on “DWTS” is her hope to inspire other 50+ people to get out of their comfort zones and try new things, in addition to staying in shape. They’ve been practicing four or five hours a day, he says, working to overcome the fact she’s not a natural when it comes to dance.
“I asked for an athlete because I wanted to see what it was like to work with one of these champions,” he says, “and I couldn’t be happier than to have gotten Martina.”
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Leelee Sobieski Gets Tough on ‘NYC 22′

By Beck/Smith
HollywoodNews.com:Leelee Sobieski certainly goes against type in her first-ever regular series role — playing an Iraq War MP-turned-tough cookie rookie cop in CBS’s April 15-debuting “NYC 22″ police drama. She’s convincing, especially in moments like when she gets a juvenile thug in an armlock to make sure he understands the importance of treating her with respect. But as soon as the director called “Cut” in that scene, she was saying “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” the actress recalls.
“He was really so cute — like a little angel kid. It’s very hard when you have to do some stuff like that. I’m always going around giving everyone hugs,” admits Leelee.
She tells us she didn’t have to think twice about taking the role. Executive producers Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal were a lure, “of course.” Also, “I’ve always loved Richard Price’s writing,” she says of the esteemed author, whose credits include Lush Life and The Wanderers, as well as scripts for “The Color of Money,” “Sea of Love” and HBO’s “The Wire.” Price created “NYC 22″ in addition to being another executive producer.
Leelee has major personal considerations as well. “It’s wonderful to be able to shoot in New York. My husband and daughter and I live here. My whole family is based here — my mother, mother-in-law, grandmother-in-law, brother and sister-in-law are all here and a lot of friends, too. And I liked that it was an ensemble piece,” The schedule allows her to spend days at home with her little girl between shooting.
Raising a two-year-old “is much harder than doing the acting,” she lets us know with a laugh.
The “Joan of Arc” star gleaned “interesting little things to put into my character” from talking to real NYPD officers, both women and men. “I went up to a lot of cops on the street. The female officers have to be really strong. I hadn’t realized that, for a police officer in first few days on the job, some of them almost felt like they were playing the part of a cop, too,” she notes. She also learned that the gun belt, “is really hard on women who have hips. It goes from side to side; it’s moving around a lot. It digs into your headphones.”
With the first season’s episodes of “NYC 22″ in the […]

Frustrations in Jennie Garth-Peter Facinelli Marriage

By Beck/Smith
HollywoodNews.com: Sad to hear that Jennie Garth and Peter Faciinelli are breaking up after 11 years of marriage. Rumors about what’s behind the split of the couple have been all over the internet, but we can’t help remembering Jennie expressing some of her frustrations in this column last year. She told us she was looking forward to the end of the “Twilight” movies, saying, “I can’t even remember what life is like with a husband. I will be very happy.”

She told us that Peter “tries to go no more than two weeks at a time” without seeing her and their three daughters, 14, 9 and 5. And, “It gets harder the more time he’s gone. It’s more of a challenge to keep everybody connected, and for the girls, they miss him so much, it’s kind of heart-wrenching to see him come and go. But there’s no other way to keep him doing what he does and keep their lives normal…We could become a traveling circus — go with him wherever he goes and homeschool the kids. But they’re enjoying having regular quiet lives and we like them to be able to have that.”
Garth talked, too, about the stresses of “Twilight” in their daughters’ lives, particularly their eldest daughter, who could never be sure whether classmates wanted to befriend her – or get closer to the actor who played Carlisle.
And, she said, “I’ve really been focusing on the family and the girls and keeping things normal for them. Whether it’s a sacrifice or not, I don’t know — but it’s definitely what I want to be doing. I want him to take this time for himself and make the most of it. And besides, with him as the breadwinner, that dynamic works for a marriage.”
Now they’re divorcing, and Jennie’s CMT reality show, “Jennie Garth: A Little Bit Country” is set to premiere next month. And so much for normalcy in a Hollywood marriage.
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Alison Sweeney Not Slowing Down

By Beck/Smith
HollywoodNews.com: “The Biggest Loser” is wrapping up shooting for its currently-airing season this week, and host Alison Sweeney admits “I’ve been counting the days” ’til it’s over. That’s because Alison, a master multi-tasker, has taken on a workload that’s nearly impossible. There’s “Biggest Loser,” her ongoing starring stint on “Days of Our Lives,” plus the “Hollywood Girls Night” TV Guide Channel show she’s executive producing along with her on-camera chores.
Planning her schedule has been like “a thousand-piece puzzle that only fits together one way. It’s all been happening at once,” she tells us. “I try to avoid this, but one time did I have to do all three shows in one day, with the Hollywood Moms coming for dinner. That was a long day.”
In case you weren’t aware, the Sunday night show, in which she partners with Ali Landry, was inspired by their real-life social circle of celebrity moms, who had fun getting together at each other’s homes and dishing on the industry, men, their kids, men, friends and men. “We want to keep it all positive, fun and light-hearted, just like it is when we talk to our girlfriends off-camera. It’s not often you’re in the middle of an outrageous conversation or a catfight. We behave as we would if we came to someone’s house for dinner,” she says.
Sure. Not surprisingly, though, the show’s teaser promos stress the spilling of secrets, and such attention-grabbing bits as this week’s guest Kendra Wilkinson talking about building a “sex room” in her home with hubby Hank Baskett. “Kendra is a highlight — the way she opens up about her married life, her background, what her life has been like as a Playmate, how she’s comfortable with her body,” Alison says. “She had great stuff. I kept asking her questions. I HAD to know more.” Robin Givens is also on this week’s show. Future shows include “Dancing With the Stars” host Brooke Burns and champion dancer Cheryl Burke.
Alison brushes off reports that she and Landry annoyed their real-life friends by going off on their own to sell the show last year. “Obviously, I just think there’s a lot of misinformation out there,” she says. “It’s a wonderful show, really positive, and most important for us, it’s celebrating our friendships.”
The busy actress-host-producer-director also has her husband […]

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