April 22, 2014

Articles By: Roger Friedman

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411.com column in April after 10 years with Fox News where he helped create Foxnews.com. Friedman’s prior experience on the Internet is with MSN’s Cinemania column. Friedman also wrote the Intelligencer column as a contributing editor at “New York Magazine,” where he covered the O.J. Simpson criminal trial. In addition, Friedman has been involved in book publishing and filmmaking (Only the Strong Survive). For more about Roger go to Showbiz411.com

Another great Hollywood Vanity Fair bash… Stars, Stars, Stars

Vanity Fair upped its Oscar game last night. They build a huge multi level tented building in the parking behind Sunset Plaza. Traffic snaked back and forth on Sunset Boulevard in both directions. There was a big security plan, with metal detectors at the check in. And then you arrived to find an avalanche of stars. Stars and stars. Two by two, or three by three, they came.
Inside the main room, just to the right, if you could find them through the fog of formally attired people, Jane Fonda and Anjelica Huston set up a beach head. Many stars, old and young, were crowded into this area including Jane’s beau, Richard Perry, and Sarah Paulson, plus Quincy Jones, who was busy looking for Petra Nemcova, and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. Rosaria Dawson and Gabrielle Union weren’t far away. Sitting on a couch in a section nearby, the fabulous oldies group– Mickey Rooney and Martin Landau. And they were hosting this year’s nominee June Squibb.
Praise god– Don Rickles and his wife were entertaining Don’s many fans. “Do you have any Oscar jokes? I asked Rickles. “If you’re paying me!” he said. I did get a photo.
Just at the entrance to this room I tripped over Bill Hader, who was reconnecting with Will Forte and Paul Rudd, with a big group of comics around them. Hader made a beeline to see Larry David. In time that group was joined by hit pop star Ed Sheeran, who’d just come over from playing at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation fundraiser. Only 23, Sheeran– who’d been hanging with Taylor Swift–is about to break out in a big way. His new single comes this week, with a new album in June.
From there I headed to the upper level party, where Bill Murray and a big group had come to occupy a huge round room with Art Deco-ish banquettes– a hold over from past VF parties. They store their sets! This is where a lot of guests were dining on In and Out Burgers. Here were lots of people carrying Oscars, from “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” crew to winner Lupita Nyong’o. Super model Karolina Kurklova and her husband Archie Drury were getting burgers. Amazing since it looks she only eats celery stalks!
And yes, chowing down, was our old pal Kerry Washington, a month away from giving birth, radiant and round.
The thing about Vanity Fair’s parties is [...]

Attack on Woody Allen by a Blogger

Someone at the New York Times has come to her senses. Margaret Sullivan, the paper’s Public Editor, has responded to a complaint from a reader who writes about ethics. Sullivan says she’s “troubled” by questions raised by Chris Rasmussen, an associate professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She actually refers him and others to Robert Weide’s excellent piece in The Daily Beast on Woody and the entire twenty year scandal.

Rasmussen wrote: “I write to ask about the propriety of publishing largely one-sided columns assailing a lone individual..I wonder whether [columnists] should use that platform to advocate on behalf of personal friends, as Mr. Kristof did yesterday. If Dylan Farrow wishes to publish an open letter about her allegations, there are ample forums in this internet age. Should The Times and Mr. Kristof lend their credibility to her argument against Woody Allen?”
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Mel Gibson at Mel Brooks tribute. Is he coming back?

Mel Gibson came under some fire last night at the Mel Brooks tribute, still the butt of jokes after his career ending moves with the police, anti-Semitism, racism, drinking, philandering, accusations of violence against his baby mama, and so on. And of course “The Beaver.”
But now I’m told that Gibson will appear in “The Expendables 3,” the third installment of Sylvester Stallone’s shoot em up series that also features his former Planet Hollywood buddies and partners Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. There’s no confirmation, but the source seemed serious.
Also featured in “E3″ are Jackie Chan and Milla Jovovich.
Gibson, sources say, will play “the villain” in the new movie. He’s lucky to be included in a film with other stars at this point.
After all his scandals and “The Beaver” he can’t open a film. He made a movie two years ago that was released to video on demand. Basically, there’s very little demand to pay for Mel Gibson in a movie theater.
Stallone had Tweeted back on April 13th that Gibson was not interested in directing “Ex 3.” But I guess he changed his mind about appearing in the film which also features Nicolas Cage.
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Judi Dench in the Oscar race this winter thanks to Harvey Weinstein…

“Esiotrot” is tortoise spelled backwards. It’s also the title of a very popular 1990 Roald Dahl illustrated children’s story that involves a love story between two mature adults.
And I can tell you that Dustin Hoffman and Dame Judi Dench are going to play the main characters. “Esiotrot” will film next month in England. Hoffman told me he’s a little nervous. “She’s Judi Dench!” But something tells me these two will hit it off famously. Dearbhla Walsh, who won the 2010 Emmy Award for Best Mini Series, “Little Dorrit,” will direct…This should be interesting since the book’s description makes it sound like a tough translation to film…Dench, by the way, may be on her way to a second Oscar next March 2014…
She’s the star of Stephen Frears’ “Philomena” and will be very much in the Oscar race this winter thanks to a big push by Harvey Weinstein…
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Brad Pitt’s World War Z is going to be a hit summer blockbuster

After all the crazy stories, Marc Forster’s World War Z is going to be a hit summer blockbuster. The movie premiered tonight in London at a big black carpet event in Leicester Square. Paramount brought me here and I was worried that this would be a difficult task.
Not at all. Brad Pitt easily pulls off the role of hero as the world is overcome by a virus that turns millions into zombies. Forster and Pitt play it straight, no laughs or inside jokes. They build characters and tension so that the audience is really involved in the story. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t The King’s Speech.
WWZ is a popcorn movie on the level of Independence Day. But like that summer hit, Forster’s film never flags and is always entertaining.
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Leonardo DiCaprio refuses to allow anyone to photograph him in Cannes

The annual amFAR rat-circus at the Eden Roc was notable for many things, none of which were conveyed by the press who attended. To wit: jury chief Steven Spielberg skipped the event as did most of the jury. Only Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz attended, and briefly. In past years, the jury leader–like Robert DeNiro–at least put in an appearance.
Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s been holed up at the Hotel du Cap since last Tuesday a week courtesy of Warner Bros., refused to allow anyone to photograph him. My sources say he was an Invisible Man. Later he took most of the celebrities and hosted an after party at a private villa–eschewing the official after party.
During the auction, DiCaprio let some sucker pledge $1.5 million to ride with him in outer space. I don’t know how the winner would ever collect on this prize. First of all, commercial space travel is like human cloning and the metric system. Second, DiCaprio if he were to go in space, would require several bodyguards, a velvet rope and a VIP room. At all “Gatsby” events he’s rhe efused to remain with the public, even if they’re already vetted and Id’D as important people. Good luck with that.
“Cinema Against AIDS” made a lot of money, but it was largely due to the return of Sharon Stone. She was banished in 2010, but needed desperately. And you can see it worked.
But party planners really goofed, I am told. The winds were so high and the temperatures so cold that guests were shoved into the Eden Roc later like sardines. Also, traffic in and out of the duCap-Eden Roc driveways tied up the Antibes roads like crazy. “There were riots inside and out and a lot of angry guests,” a source who was up there told me. I was graciously invited by Moncler to the after party, but the traffic was prohibitive. That was amFAR’s fault.
DiCaprio by the way is going next to the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo. He’s been at least three times to the famed Michelangelo restaurant in Antibes. His mother told me he gave her and her boyfriend an all expenses paid stay at the duCap and at the Festival, which was pretty nice.
Meantime, while amFAR raged on in its oveheated tent, the real place to be was the very chic and famous Tetou, on the water in Antibes. This is where a bowl [...]

“The Great Gatsby” soundtrack is a hit. Currently, it’s blazinup the iTunes chart.

But what’s keeping “Gatsby” from he top spot on amazon? None other than TV star Zooey Deschanel’s new album with partner M. Ward. They call themselves “She and Him.” It’s their third edition of songs together. Interesting–that the likeable Deschanel is holding Jay Z and friends back.
In physical sales of CDs, amazon has “Gatsby” at number 12. Combined with iTunes and whats left of record stores, “Gatsby” should finish in the top 3 when sales are added up beginning tomorrow.
What’s interesting about the “Gatsby” soundtrack: many of the tracks are only available if you buy the whole album for download. Customers can’t cherry pick nine of the 14 tracks and call it a day. I often wonder why this isn’t usually the case for albums. This was a smart move on the part of Interscope. And so while you can get Lana del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” off of “Gatsby” as a single, tracks by Florence and the Machine, will.i.am, Beyonce, Jay Z and Emeli Sande are “album only.”
PS all the “She and Him” tracks are available singly or as a collection.
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Steven Spielberg Calls Robert DeNiro for Advice

Robert DeNiro ran the Cannes Film Festival jury in 2011. He told me that when Steven Spielberg was named the head of this year’s jury, the “Lincoln” director called him for advice. “I told him, Have fun with it. It’s hard work but he’ll enjoy it.”
DeNiro also says Spielberg will not be able to screen the movies on his yacht anchored off of Cannes that resembles a floating country. “You have to be in the theaters,” said DeNiro, who as a constant and genial presence in 2011 all over the Croisette. “He can’t watch them on a boat.”
Spielberg has chosen an all star jury to help him cast ballots this year. Among his choices: Oscar winner Nicole Kidman and two time Best Director Ang Lee, as well as two time winner actor Christoph Waltz. The jury is as well known this year as the stars in the movies say some wags.
But in reality, Cannes is going to be jam packed with stars and parties for movies. Forget about the Paris Hilton type events that have nothing to do with the festival. Cannes is so busy that those tabloid celeb gatherings don’t really register. It’s not that Cannes isn’t fun. But it is about real stars and real movies, not sideshows.
To wit: movies by the Alexander Payne, Sofia Coppola, Joel and Ethan Coen, James Franco, James Toback are tops on the lists. Hollywood legends Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Jerry Lewis and Kim Novak are all coming to town. Petra Nemcova is hosting a fund raiser for Haiti. Amy Sacco is bringing Bungalow 8 to a yacht. Denise Rich is hosting an all star party for Toback’s “Seduced and Abandoned.”
Popular publisher and p.r. consultant Charles Finch is throwing his annual dinner for the A list at the Hotel du Cap’s Eden Roc– plus he’s behind the New York Film Festival’s new filmmaker venture with Jaeger LeCoultre now under way. Naomi Campbell has her famous fashion show. And the very in the know crowds will be buzzing around Antibes hot spots Michelangelo, Tetou, and Bacon, as per usual.
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Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” is busy busy busy

For its first two thirds, Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” is busy busy busy with nary a minute to avoid an onslaught of stylized metaphors. People keep asking me Is it like “Moulin Rouge”? Well no, it’s not nearly as unruly because Luhrmann has to stick– more or less- to the F. Scott Fitzgerald text. He has a structure and a story and at some point he has to get with the program. And he does. The last third of his Gatsby is one of the most beautiful, moving films I’ve ever seen. And the first two thirds? They are a joyride through the director’s wild imagination.
So we’ve got Leonardo DiCaprio as the mysterious and pained Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as the narrator Nick Carraway, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton as Daisy and Tom Buchanan. And then are the secondary roles: Elizabeth Debicki making quite an impression as golf playing Jordan Baker, Daisy’s friend; Jack Thompson (“Breaker Morant,” anyone?) as Nick’s doctor; and Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke as Myrtle and George Wilson. Everyone is quite good. The only real mistake—and it’s a doozy—is Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan as the Jewish gangster from Chicago, Meyer Wolfscheim. I don’t know what anyone was thinking. Yikes. He stands out like a sore thumb.
Maguire as Nick, of course, has to carry the film. I’ve seen it twice and he is very strong. As in “The Cider House Rules,” Maguire plays a very good observer. (I laughed when Edgerton’s Tom said to Nick: “I know you like to watch.” That is really Maguire’s talent. He’s great at it.) Even though he was the hero in “Spider Man,” Maguire’s skill is in setting himself apart from a story. That makes him a ready-made Nick. He has some things to overcome though: This screenplay tries to make it out that the author of the book is really the main character, who has authored the story we’re seeing as a memoir. They tried this in “On the Road,” pretending Sal was Jack Kerouac typing furiously onto a scroll.
It didn’t work there and it’s not such a good idea here. There’s nothing to suggest that Nick wrote a book about Gatsby after all the incidents of this story. It’s more than a little annoying but I guess they felt it had to be done as a framing device.
DiCaprio is the wild card here. [...]

The Rolling Stones Keep on Rolling!

The Rolling Stones kicked off their 50th anniversary tour — in their 51st year– with lots of action. That included guest stars Gwen Stefani and Keith Urban, who sang and played, respectively, on “Wild Horses” and “Respectable.” Jack Nicholson was among the stars spotted in the Staples Center. And the show was sold out, despite what some naysayers might think.
The fact is, the Stones always sell out in the end even if they have slow starts to sales. That’s just the way it is. They sang “This may be the last time” last night, which may be true for once. And as far as the show itself goes: my experience seeing them last December in Brooklyn and then Newark was that show was quite amazing, the group was beyond expectations. Not only are Keith and co. superbly rocking as if they were in their 20s, but I challenge anyone to do what Mick Jagger does on that stage. Cannot be done. He’s like a panther, he never stops, never stops, never stops.
And get this: I told you that AEG Live had booked 18 shows in the US and Canada. They announced nine in the first release. But in the end, they are playing those 18 shows including the one at the Echoplex. If you don’t count that one, it’s 17. But New York hasn’t been booked yet. And it will be, for the final dates. So get off my cloud.
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