January 02, 2015

Tag Archives: Entertainment/Culture

Clint Eastwood: Spotlight on the Stars

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to go old school and take a look at a classic A-lister, and that happens to be one Clint Eastwood. Depending on your age, he’s either a director who used to be an actor or a childhood icon who’s now become a rather iconic filmmaker. Few could have reinvented themselves the way that Eastwood has, with this weekend’s release of Jersey Boys highlighting his directing skills in a whole new light than really ever before. He’s tried to do it all in Hollywood, you have to tip your hat to him for that.
Eastwood has basically done it all in the business. He’s starred in franchises (the Dirty Harry series as well as The Man With No Name movies), acted in Best Picture winners, and directed them as well. Though one could legitimately make the claim that his best days in Hollywood are behind him, there was a time when he was basically the king of the industry. Two of his directorial efforts (both of which he starred in and received Best Actor nominations for) won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and he had a long run of his work being repeatedly embraced by Oscar voters. He has four competitive statues at home (for producing and directing Million Dollar Baby as well as producing and directing Unforgiven) and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to show for it.
If you take a look at his work, he’s shown how an actor with one specialty could become a filmmaker with a completely different one. He was never on Oscar’s radar as a western star and even when he moved to the director’s chair, it was in genre fare. Slowly but surely he kept improving his work, culminating in Unforgiven in the 90’s being the first time voters cited a film of his, along with his own performance as well. Since then, he’s dabbled in comedies (Space Cowboys), mysteries (Blood Work, Changeling), war epics (Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima), and even baity biopics (J. Edgar). Now he goes the musical route with Jersey Boys. You have to say this for Eastwood…he never sits on his hands (ironic, since he’s an accomplished piano player and musical composer as well, even getting a Golden Globe nomination for doing the score to Grace is Gone, which he was otherwise uninvolved in). He always has something […]

Amy Adams: 2015 Best Actress contenders

As you folks all know full well by now, it’s one thing to read my Academy Award predictions at this point in the year in order to see what folks like myself think will happen, but it’s another thing entirely to actually know something about who and what will be in contention for nominations. To help out in that regard, at least somewhat, I’m running down some of the major contenders in each Oscar category in order to prep you all for the season to come. Basically, the format will have me saying a few words about what/who I feel are the top tier contenders right now in said categories, along with a longer list afterwards of many of the other hopefuls that the Academy might take a shine to. Consider this a sort of before the awards season cheat sheet to have in your back pocket.
Today I’m continuing with another of the biggest categories of them all…this time it’s Best Actress.
Here are the ten lovely ladies that I have in play for Best Actress, with the top five cracking the lineup at this point:
1. Amy Adams (Big Eyes) – I don’t know that there’s an actress who more clearly seems to be next in line for an Oscar win than Adams. She probably came the closest in her career so far last year with American Hustle, so she’s basically the de facto number one right now. The material is right up the Academy’s alley, early word is strong, and the timing is right. Everything is set up for Adams to almost steamroll through the season, so stay tuned to see if she actually does!
2. Jessica Chastain (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them) – In a rather short span of time, Chastain has become basically an awards mainstay. Just about every project she joins is labeled a contender and she’s got a pretty solid batting average so far, in terms of nominations at least. She’s beginning to seem due for a win, and it’ll likely happen sooner rather than later. This project is very ambitious and could wind up staying under the Academy’s radar, but if they see it, she most likely will get nominated once again.
3. Michelle Williams (Suite française) – Another overdue actress, Williams always seems to be close to an Academy Award win before someone else winds up becoming the flavor of the season. That could again […]

New Movie “America” shows Hillary Clinton Meeting With Saul Alinsky

America, the new film from bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza and the Academy Award-winning producer of Schindler’s List, Gerald R. Molen which hits theaters July 2nd will feature a teenaged Hillary Clinton being introduced to the radical philosopher Saul Alinsky for the first time. In the film, Hillary Clinton is played by actress Jennifer Pearson and is introduced to the political activist by her Methodist youth minister.
AMERICA, a follow up by the team that created the runaway hit 2016: Obama’s America deals with the question: “Where would the world be if America had never existed?”
According to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, D’Souza said: “In 2016 I focused on the mis-education of Obama. Here we explore the mis-education of Hillary Clinton. Is Hillary more like Bill Clinton or is she more like Obama? That is the question we answer in this film.”
Producer Gerald R. Molen continued, “We didn’t know of any footage that exists of Hillary Clinton at that age. We had hoped to have her in the film to talk about her life, including that period of it. When she didn’t agree to an interview we did the next best thing: re-create what actually happened.”
In a clip obtained by the magazine, scholar Stanley Kurtz is interviewed about the encounter. After the taping Kurtz wrote an essay about the experience which can be read here. http://m.nationalreview.com/corner/370188/dsouzas-case-and-my-role-his-film-stanley-kurtz
To read the original article please click here: www.hollywoodreporter.com

Ryan Kavanaugh: Relativity Media expands in China

Relativity Media, a next generation media company, today announced at the Shanghai International Film Festival that it has formed a joint partnership with Jiangsu Broadcasting Corp. to develop, co-finance, co-produce and distribute film and television content for both the international and Chinese markets. As part of the partnership, JSBC will make an equity investment in Relativity. Financial terms were not disclosed.
As one of the most influential media operators in China, JSBC is a highly acclaimed multi-media company operating leading television, radio, newspapers, magazines and internet properties. The two companies will develop, produce and distribute new film and television content across JSBC and Relativity’s platforms.
“China is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets for every form of content, and Relativity has long been focused on expanding our footprint in this incredibly dynamic market. The partnership with JSBC we announced today will further strengthen the robust foundation we have built in China,” said Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity. “By collaborating with JSBC, we will deepen our relationship with the Chinese media and entertainment industry and provide a world-class platform from which to co-develop Chinese and international film, television, and sports content with one of the preeminent media companies in China.”
Mr. Bu Yu, President of JSBC, said, “JSBC is delighted to make this investment into Relativity, one of the world’s most disruptive and fastest growing media companies. Combining our distribution and content with Relativity’s will strengthen the formidable platforms of both our companies. This partnership will allow JSBC and Relativity to collaborate across the full range of content from film and television, to sports and music, and we are excited about the possibilities it creates.”
Relativity in China
Relativity’s existing presence in China is underpinned by its ownership of SkyLand Entertainment, a film distribution and financing company headquartered in Beijing. Originally launched as a joint venture between Relativity, IDG China Media Fund and SAIF Partners, SkyLand is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Relativity and maintains a close strategic relationship with the government-run distributor Huaxia Film Distribution Co. Recent Relativity films released in China include Immortals, Mirror Mirror and Free Birds.
About Relativity
Relativity (www.relativitymedia.com) is a next-generation studio engaged in multiple aspects of entertainment, including film production; financing and distribution; television; sports management; music publishing; and digital media.
The studio has produced, distributed or structured financing for nearly 200 motion pictures, generating more than $17 billion in worldwide box office revenue and earning 60 Oscar® nominations. […]

Do we really have a Summer Movie Season anymore?

Maybe I’m just nuts, but it’s slowly beginning to seem to me like there isn’t really a summer movie season anymore, or at the very least no longer one that resembles what there used to be. I’m sure I’m hardly the first person over the last few years to say this, or even the last year (or even this month, I’m sure), but it appears like a simple fact of the matter. What used to be an important designation that would get audiences excited and symbolize a certain type of studio output has now become antiquated. Blockbusters happen year round, counter programming happens year round, and only really the awards bait type film still has a designated season.
This all began with the summer movie season being extended, slowly but sure. I’ll give some examples below, but it showed studios that it was possible to play popcorn entertainment throughout all 12 months. Even March has gotten in on the action, a time usually reserved as the end of the movie dumping season with January and February. Don’t look now, but February is next in line for this treatment too. It really is a new age at hand.
To me, Godzilla this year signified the end. A perfect July type event movie, it hit theaters in May. That was a real death knell in my eyes, along with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also avoiding the true summer months. It’s been happening for years now, but it really came to the forefront for me now. It began with the surprising success of 300 back when that was a March release, continued for years slowly with other films testing the waters, and announced itself in a major way when The Avengers opened in the first week of May a few years ago. That was the terminal diagnosis, if you will. Godzilla was just the flatline.
I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. A fun movie or a good movie is just as top notch whenever it comes out, so the aforementioned Godzilla for example didn’t suffer one bit. Nor did The Avengers, and nor will most future releases. Aside from Oscar bait like I said before, almost every other type of movie (give or take overtly Christmas fare, but even then it’s not a hard and fast rule) can now open whenever it feels like and do comparable business. The model has just […]

Nikki Finke is back! Watch out Hollywood

Nikki Finke is back!
And, from the look of her first blog on NikkiFinke.com she is loaded for bear.
Finke takes a swipe at her old website she founded, Deadline Hollywood, by dismissively writing: “I barely recognize DH these days. Some of those bylines I never hired and wouldn’t. (Anita Busch or Peter Bart) She’s batshit crazy and he’s an unethical fart). A lot of those stories I consider a waste of time covering.

I never wanted a bland and boring news feed. But that’s what the people running it now want. DH plans to unveil a redesign next week, and the best thing I can say about what I saw the other day is that it’s generic. (Yes, I just threw up in my mouth a little).
She also calls Deadline Hollywood’s film editor Michael Fleming as “Little Lord Fauntleroy” and “Mike Phlegming” and promises to write more in the coming days.
Last October, Fleming called out Finke, claiming her feud with owner Jay Penske had become a “public spectacle,” and that “If she returns—she is under contract until 2016—we will welcome her with open arms. If she doesn’t, we will survive, knowing in our hearts that she is miscast as the victim in this drama.”
Well, we now know that she is back. And, she promises to be a “cruel and quirky alternative to Deadlame and Valiety and The Hollywood Unreported and TheCrap.”
Her new logo, she notes, looks “gritty and bullet-riddled with fiery palm tree shooting sparks into the night sky”
Finke also promises to add new features weekly – NikkiFinke.com

“How to Train Your Dragon 2”: What’s Up with the Awards Race

Directed by: Dean DeBlois
Written by: Dean DeBlois
Main Cast: Voices of Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Djimon Hounsou, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, and others
Past Oscar relations: The first film in the franchise was nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score
Here now we have a brand new article in this series of mine on 2015 contenders hoping to compete for some sort of Oscar attention at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us is the sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2, which looks to please audiences as much as the first one did. From there, it’s potentially on to Oscar contention!
This is the second film in a now franchise, based on a highly popular series of books. How to Train Your Dragon 2 features a top notch voice cast, with folks such as Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Djimon Hounsou, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, and many others lending their talents to the movie. All signs point to this being a big success and a likely player in the Best Animated Feature field. Can it go further though?
What this flick has going in its favor is highly positive reviews and a built in audience that tried to make the last one an awards contender. The early word says that this one is just as good, if not a bit better, than the first How to Train Your Dragon, which is no small achievement. This makes it more or less a surefire nominee in Best Animated Feature and perhaps even the frontrunner right now (give or take how The Lego Movie ages over the course of the rest of the season). Only halfway through the year, that’s a a pretty solid spot to be in.
Working against How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the fact that animation has had a tougher time of late. Since the sliding scale in Best Picture has been implemented, no cartoon has gotten into the major categories, so it’s possible that the time for that sort of a citation has come and gone. If Frozen couldn’t do it last year, one has to think that this year we won’t see anything from the animated category particularly break through. It’s not impossible, but I wouldn’t bet on it happening.
So, can this be a player at all? I’d say […]

BIRDMAN – Michael Keaton – New Trailer

BIRDMAN or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton) – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play.
In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.

Prayer Partners: Christians in Hollywood–Part 3

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
Over the years, Doug Millham of Pasadena has often hung around movie and TV sets, where he has met all sorts of people working in the entertainment industry. He said he has come to view them as “gypsies.”
“I call them gypsies because they’re always going from job to job, whether it dancing or performing. It’s very difficult,” the retired Presbyterian minister told HollywoodNews. “Those who choose it need a lot of support. You know, it’s glamorous, but for ninety-nine percent, the industry uses you and discards you when the next younger, prettier person comes along….I can see why drug abuse, marital problems and family issues bubble up all the time.”
For more than two decades, Millham has asked numerous people working in entertainment if he could say a private prayer with them.
“I’ve prayed with Muslims, I’ve prayed with Jewish people and I’ve asked nonbelievers if I can pray with them…,” he recalled. “And I’ve never been rejected.”
Millham, 67, is a volunteer “prayer partner” who regularly keeps in touch with a network of actors, directors, producers, writers and others who ask him to pray for them. They may be facing a crisis in their personal life, be an actor gearing up for an important casting call, or a producer or screenwriter seeking God’s guidance in their next creative pursuits.
“The industry is incredibly competitive and it can be very demoralizing to people whether you are a person or faith or not,” Millham said. “You’re going to be in competition with enormously talented people most of the time and you’ll get an awful lot of rejection and criticism. I think the attraction (of prayer) to people of faith, whether they’re Jewish, Muslim or Christian, is that we believe there is a higher power, an eternal source of comfort and calm (that provides) direction in our lives. And I think prayer is a calming factor for people who work in a profession with constant anxiety.”
Married and the father of two grown sons, Millham is a former pastor at Hollywood Presbyterian Church. He is now semi-retired, spending much of his time running a Pasadena-based nonprofit called Discover the World, which raises money for orphans in Africa—specifically providing care for children who have been orphaned as a result of losing parents to AIDS.
“We have about 600 orphans we’ve placed in school,” he said. “I travel back and forth to Africa on a […]

Jonah Hill: Spotlight on the Stars

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at a bit of a new A-lister, and that happens to be Jonah Hill. For some, he’s just another Judd Apatow guy, but realistically, he’s much more than that. He’s branched out on his own with a rather hilarious comedy franchise that began with 21 Jump Street and continues this weekend with 22 Jump Street (he also co-wrote both in addition to starring). He’s also gone the drama route and both times been rewarded with Academy Award nominations (for Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street), so he’s got some serious bonafides these days. You have to look at him as a member of the A list now, and someone who very well might be on their way to winning an Oscar before long.
Hill has worked with an impressive assortment of filmmakers so far in his career. That list includes the likes of Judd Apatow, David Gordon Green, Phil Lord/Christopher Miller, Bennett Miller, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino. You probably never would have guessed that the guy who got his start playing second fiddle in films like Accepted would become one of more in demand actors in Hollywood. It just goes to show where real dedication and hard work can get you.
If you actually look at his work, he’s show more range than he’s given credit for. The types of performances he gives in movies like 21 Jump Street (along with 22 Jump Street on Friday, which is just as good, trust me there), Funny People, Knocked Up, and Superbad are tremendous, but they’re very different than what he’s shown us in Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street. Especially with that latter performance, he was able to seamlessly blend comedy and drama, which is the way he’s going to one day win that statue, likely in the Best Supporting Actor category that he’s gotten a pair of citations in already.
Overall, Hill is a genius comic actor with some stunningly good dramatic chops as well. He’s got the very amusing 22 Jump Street opening in a few days and later this year he’ll make another play at awards with the drama True Story, co-starring James Franco. He’ll likely continue to mix and match between comedy and drama, which is perfectly fine in my book. I greatly look forward to watching Hill continue to grow as an actor and […]

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