July 11, 2015

Tag Archives: morgan freeman

Seth MacFarlane looks to establish comedy dominance with “Ted 2″

For today’s piece, I want to try something a little bit different, especially because this isn’t the first time I’ve spoken of Seth MacFarlane here. Last year, I wrote about MacFarlane as a future A-list comedy filmmaker on the eve of his sophomore feature A Million Ways to Die in the West opening. Then, that movie underperformed, so he’s still waiting for that second hit (after Ted) to solidify his cinematic standing in the same way that he has on television. Well, this weekend he has the opportunity with Ted 2, so I wanted to repost part of my MacFarlane piece, updated with some Ted 2 extra goodness. Hopefully this is a fun idea, since honestly…it’s fun sometimes to double dip and give something another go.
Below you’ll see a re-edited look at my thoughts last year on MacFarlane, tailored more now for Ted 2 than A Million Ways to Die in the West, along with some extra remarks on that new flick. Take a gander:
We’ve known for years now that Seth MacFarlane was one of the kings of animated television comedy, but it was only a few years ago that we saw him conquer cinemas as well with his directorial debut Ted. The film was hilarious, clever, and better received by critics than anyone was expecting. In a heartbeat, MacFarlane had the keys to the Hollywood comedy kingdom. If his new movie (Ted 2, this time) is a success this weekend, could MacFarlane be on his way to surpassing Judd Apatow as the biggest comedic filmmaker out there?
To be fair, that’s not exactly an apt comparison. Apatow and MacFarlane are both masters of different crafts, with the former also someone who consistently has his hands in more pies and seems to have somewhat artier ambitions at times. They’re also shooting at different audiences now too. The people that came out in droves for The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up aren’t the same targets for Funny People and This is 40. In fact, they’re the target audience for Ted, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and Ted 2. If his newest work is a big hit like his debut as the character, MacFarlane will certainly be able to at least stake the claim that there’s nobody bigger in comedy today than him.
While his work is far from highbrow, I think his writing doesn’t get enough credit. […]

The 82nd Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

As I mentioned last time out, this series has officially returned. Yes, once again I’m going to be taking a look back at a recent (or now recent-ish) Oscar lineup and explaining what my vote would have been in each of the big eight categories we all follow so intently each season. I previously mentioned that potentially I could do this once a week with previous Academy Award ceremonies, and while I’m going to be attempting to do just that, time will still tell if it’s something that gets stuck with or not. Again, if nothing else, this continues to give you an interesting look into my cinematic tastes. Over the course of the year you can sort of get a feel for what my current favorites are, but now we can look to the past a bit more.
Alright then, here goes nothing folks…behold my picks for this particular ceremony:
Best Picture – Up in the Air
The nominees here were A Serious Man, An Education, Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, and Up. The main snub here, in my book at least, was (500) Days of Summer, and I nearly went with the actual winner in The Hurt Locker, but Up in the Air was my #1 film of this year, so that made it pretty academic in the end.
Best Director – Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
A history making and diverse category this time out, the field consisted of Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, James Cameron for Avatar, Lee Daniels for Precious, Jason Reitman for Up in the Air, and Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds. I believe Marc Webb was snubbed for (500) Days of Summer and really wish that Reitman had come closer to winning, but when you come right down to it, I can’t argue with Bigelow. The first woman to ever win Best Director gets my vote here as well.
Best Actor – George Clooney for Up in the Air
Here the nominees were Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart, George Clooney for Up in the Air, Colin Firth for A Single Man, Morgan Freeman for Invictus, and Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker. The Academy missed the boat on nominating Sam Rockwell for Moon, but aside from him, I’d have to go for Clooney.
Best Actress – Carey Mulligan for An Education
The big snub to me here was Zooey Deschanel for (500) Days […]

Gary Lucchesi and Lori McCreary Elected Presidents of the Producers Guild of America

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today its 2014 National Board and officer election results, which were shared during the Guild’s annual General Membership Meeting tonight on the Warner Bros. Studios lot. The Producers Guild elected Gary Lucchesi and Lori McCreary as Presidents. Other newly PGA national officers include: Vice Presidents of Motion Pictures David Friendly and Lydia Dean Pilcher; Vice Presidents of Television Tim Gibbons and Jason Katims; Treasurer Christina Lee Storm, and Vice President PGA East Region Peter Saraf. Outgoing PGA Presidents Mark Gordon and Hawk Koch, who served since 2010, received special recognition at the meeting for their unwavering service to the Producers Guild over the years, including their seminal advocacy on behalf of the Guild’s credit certification, the Producers Mark.
“We are extremely honored and excited to begin this new chapter with the Producers Guild,” said McCreary and Lucchesi. “We have seen numerous positive changes over the past four years as a result of the hard work of our Presidents, the PGA National Board and its committee members. We hope to continue to build upon the great work of our predecessors and to protect the rights of our industry’s hardworking producers.”
Gary Lucchesi has served as the PGA’s Vice President of Motion Pictures for the past four years as well as co-chaired the Produced By Conference for the past four years.
Lori McCreary has served as the PGA’s National Treasurer for the past two years as well as co-chaired the 2014 PGA Awards with Michael De Luca.
McCreary and Lucchesi’s election marks the second time the Guild’s nominating committee has selected a pair of members to stand for election together as Presidents, following Mark Gordon and Hawk Koch. The only other time the Guild has been governed by a pair of presidents was from 2001 – 2002, following the PGA’s merger with the American Association of Producers, when the Guild was overseen by Kathleen Kennedy and Tim Gibbons. The 2014 election represents the first time the PGA has nominated pairs of candidates for its Vice Presidential offices.
About Gary Lucchesi
GARY LUCCHESI serves as President of Lakeshore Entertainment, an independent film company based in Los Angeles. He has also served as the Vice President, Motion Pictures for the Producers Guild of America since 2010. Lucchesi executive-produced MILLION DOLLAR BABY, which won the Oscar for Best picture of 2004. The first movie he produced was PRIMAL […]

Transcendence – Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, Cole Hauser, Cillian Murphy

Directed by: Wally Pfister
Written by: Jack Paglen
Main Cast: Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, Cole Hauser, Cillian Murphy, and others
Past Oscar relations: Pfister won Best Cinematography for Inception and Morgan Freeman won Best Supporting Actor for Million Dollar Baby
Here now we have the next article in this series on 2014 contenders hoping to compete for Oscar attention at the Academy Award ceremony in 2015. Next up is DP turned filmmaker Wally Pfister’s directorial debut Transcendence, which hopes to more or less establish Pfister as the next Christopher Nolan (especially since he’s Nolan’s longtime cinematographer), though that may be a somewhat overly optimistic ambition. There’s clearly a bit of Nolan in Pfister though, so we’ll see. He’s got a top notch cast in place here, including Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman (a Nolan veteran), Cole Hauser, and Cillian Murphy (ditto), so that’s a big help. If Pfister can take scribe Jack Paglen’s well regarded script and make it into something special, perhaps this can be the sort of smart blockbuster that the Academy notices?
What this flick has going in its favor is mainly its pedigree. From the A list cast to the directorial debut of one of the best cinematographers in the business to the hot script that got this all start, hopes have been high from day one here. There’s also the allure of seeing Depp in a role that doesn’t require massive amounts of make up, so older fans of his may be intrigued by this more than many of his recent Disney outings. Followers of Nolan also know Pfister pretty well, so there’s some level of anticipation of him getting to helm his own movie. There’s an original premise on display as well, which is sort of rare these days. This all adds up to a film with lots of potential.
Working against Transcendence is that it appears to be caught between the worlds of heady science fiction and summer blockbuster action. The film could be too talky for the crowd who wants to see things blow up and it could be too reliant on adding spectacle for those who are looking to really get into the nitty gritty of the story here. Honestly, the release date makes me think that Warner Brothers themselves aren’t quite sure how this will all play out, so unless there are top notch […]

Meryl Streep and Katie Couric join together against cancer

Academy Award®-winning actress Meryl Streep encourages people to get screened for colon cancer in new broadcast public service announcements (PSAs) that launch in March, in conjunction with National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
The PSAs, which will premiere today on Katie!, are the latest collaboration between the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (EIF’s NCCRA), co-founded by Katie Couric, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the CDC’s Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign. This initiative is a multi-year effort to educate Americans about the importance of regular colorectal cancer screening for men and women aged 50 years and over.
Streep is one of the world’s most renowned actors, having won three Academy Awards as well as multiple Golden Globe, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and Screen Actors Guild awards, in addition to Primetime Emmys and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. She is the third Oscar-winning actor to appear in the Screen for Life campaign, along with Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton.
Of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, taking the lives of more than 50,000 Americans every year. Yet the disease is highly preventable through screening. Screening can detect pre-cancerous growths called polyps that can be removed before they develop into colorectal cancer. Screening can also detect colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most effective.
Streep explains these benefits of screening in the PSA, titled Control, adding that, “For me, screening was simple and quick. It was no big deal, except for the huge sense of relief you feel afterwards.”
The colorectal cancer death rate has declined steadily for several years. According to the CDC, half of this decrease can be attributed to more people getting screened. Despite that progress, one third of U.S. adults age 50 and over are still not up to date with recommended screening.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening for men and women aged 50–75. (The decision to be screened after age 75 should be made on an individual basis. People older than 75 are advised to ask their doctors if they should be screened.)
The CDC considers Screen for Life one of the most effective campaigns it has undertaken to encourage screening.
Streep said she was motivated to get screened after seeing Katie Couric’s […]

Shirley MacLain Receives AFI Lifetime Achievement Award

HollywoodNews.com: Last night, stage and screen legend Shirley MacLaine was lauded with the 40th annual AFI Life Achievement Award – the highest honor for a career in film. Some of Hollywood’s most revered luminaries turned out to pay tribute to one of America’s most beloved artists. The gala, entitled “TV Land Presents: AFI Life Achievement Award Honoring Shirley MacLaine,” was taped at historic Stage 15 at Sony Pictures Studios last evening and will air on TV Land on Sunday, June 24 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.
The evening’s festivities kicked off with MacLaine entering the gala of over 1,000 attendees to “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” a song she made famous in the 1969 screen version of “Sweet Charity.” Immediately following dinner, Warren Beatty, MacLaine’s brother, Academy Award®-winning actor and fellow AFI Life Achievement Award recipient (2008), talked about how the AFI Life Achievement Award was established in 1973 to ensure that “the great masters of film may take their deserved place in history beside leaders in other arts” and introduced the award recipients in attendance to celebrate MacLaine and the award’s 40th anniversary – Sidney Poitier (1992), Jack Nicholson (1994), Steven Spielberg (1995), Meryl Streep (2004) and Morgan Freeman (2011).
Academy Award®-winning actress Julia Roberts took the stage to speak about MacLaine’s love for playing cards and “the boys” of her life – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and even Chicago mob boss, Sam Giancana. Fellow “Steel Magnolias” star Sally Field paid tribute to MacLaine by saying, “She is generous beyond a fault, a one of a kind original and an extraordinary actor. She’s a renowned world traveler who collects people. They are her most valued treasures. And I’m very proud to be included in her lifelong collection.” Dakota Fanning (“I Am Sam”) and Katherine Heigl (“27 Dresses”) both spoke about how MacLaine had inspired them in their own journeys in Hollywood. John Travolta introduced an inspiring video with footage from “Sweet Charity” and described MacLaine as “a woman who does it all – but always first – a dancer.” He went on to say that she “fills the world with a presence never seen before.”
Last year’s AFI Life Achievement Award recipient, Morgan Freeman, recounted MacLaine’s impressive journey that led her to where she is today, and Elizabeth McGovern, who stars on “Downton Abbey,” shared a never-before-seen clip from […]

“Blade Runner” Screenwriter Hampton Fancher in Talks to Pen Sequel Idea for Director Ridley Scott

HollywoodNews.com: Hampton Fancher is in talks to reunite with his “Blade Runner” director Ridley Scott to develop the idea for the original screenplay for the Alcon Entertainment, Scott Free, and Bud Yorkin produced follow up to the ground-breaking 1982 science fiction classic, it was announced by Alcon co-founders and co-Chief Executive Officers Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove.
The filmmakers are also revealing for the first time that the much-anticipated project is intended to be a sequel to the renowned original. The filmmakers would reveal only that the new story will take place some years after the first film concluded.
The three-time Oscar-nominated Scott and his “Blade Runner” collaborator Fancher originally conceived of their 1982 classic as the first in a series of films incorporating the themes and characters featured in Philip K. Dick’s groundbreaking novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, from which “Blade Runner” was adapted. Circumstances, however, took Scott into other directions and the project never advanced.
Fancher, although a writer of fiction, was known primarily as an actor at the time Scott enlisted him to adapt the Dick novel for the screen. Fancher followed his ?Blade Runner? success with the screenplays, ?The Mighty Quinn? (1989) and “The Minus Man” (1999). He has continued to write fiction throughout his career.
Scott also will produce with Alcon co-founders and co-Chief Executive Officers Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove as well as Bud Yorkin and Cynthia Sikes Yorkin. Frank Giustra and Tim Gamble, CEO’s of Thunderbird Films, will serve as executive producers.
The original film, which has been singled out as the greatest science-fiction film of all time by a majority of genre publications, was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1993 and is frequently taught in university courses. In 2007, it was named the 2nd most visually influential film of all time by the Visual Effects Society.
State Kosove and Johnson: “It is a perfect opportunity to reunite Ridley with Hampton on this new project, one in fact inspired by their own personal collaboration, a classic of cinema if there ever was one.”
Released by Warner Bros. almost 30 years ago, “Blade Runner” was adapted by Fancher and David Peoples from Philip K. Dick’s groundbreaking novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” and directed by Scott following […]

The Hunger Games: The hunt for a new director is on

HollywoodNews.com: The Playlist doesn’t break news all that often, merely seeing fit to be a one-stop shop for the movie news that everyone else breaks during the day (I don’t mean that as an insult, The Playlist is the site I go to if I only have time to surf one movie news site in a given day), So it’s somewhat of a big deal that The Playlist has broken a pretty major story, confirming that director Gary Ross will not be back to helm the second and/or third films in the Hunger Games franchise. There have been rumblings all week about contract negotiations, and Ross has now politely passed. The site chalks it up to both Ross’s lack of desire to stay in the same universe for the next several years combined with a somewhat low-ball offer from Lionsgate. Whatever the case, Ross is gone and the hunt for a new director is now on. While editing my John Carter obituary a few weeks ago, I removed a large paragraph dealing with the trend of giving young white-male filmmakers with barely a feature credit to their name the keys to $100-300 million franchise films while seasoned pros and/or minorities remain noticeably absent from the ‘wish-list’ (yes, I was glad to see F. Gary Gray on the Marvel wish-list for Captain America 2). And while I wouldn’t consider The Hunger Games a ‘female film’, it would be a great opportunity to make a point that female directors can indeed handle the kind of big-scale filmmaking that studios are all-too willing to offer to mostly untested male directors as a matter of course. So, perhaps arbitrarily, perhaps to prove a point about how inaccessible the ‘wish list’ is for female directors, here are nine directors who happen to be women who also belong on ‘the wish-list’ as Lionsgate hunts for a second director. These are in alphabetical order, with the exception of the final entry, who would be my ‘top choice’.
Kathryn Bigelow
Duh. In fact, she’ll probably make the wish-list as a token nod to gender-diversity, and all she had to do was become the first female in history to win a Best Director Oscar. I don’t really have to explain this pick. She’s been directing hard action pictures for thirty years. She’s helmed the likes of Near Dark (a […]

Oscars: Billy Crystal Was Far From His Best

By Michael Russnow
HollywoodNews.com: The Academy Awards was a lot better than last year’s offering and generally moved along pretty well. However, Billy Crystal’s performance was mixed. Sometimes he was spot on and in other instances resorted to forced humor that missed its mark.
After Morgan Freeman’s opening we saw Billy in an uninspiring repeat of what he’d done so well many times before, inserting himself into reproductions of well-known clips from the top films. Maybe it’s because he’s done it so many times. It’s true that he hasn’t been host since 2004, and we often enjoy an entertainer repeating his or her best work, but like an aging singer whose voice doesn’t hold up when the muscles sag, what was downright hysterical in past years, like when he came out as Hannibal Lecter in 1992, this go-around didn’t work too well for me in 2012.
The one exception was from The Descendants, when George Clooney recreated his visit to his comatose wife, played by Crystal lying in bed. Clooney’s kiss was so heartfelt it provided a big laugh. The Justin Bieber bit from Midnight in Paris wasn’t bad. Not so much the scene with Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible, nor was Crystal’s business spoofing The Help or Tintin particularly funny.
Oddly when he segued into his Oscar medley it worked better, with the lyrics sharp and engaging. After that, it was hit and miss. Sometimes very clever and other times flat. And when the latter happened he often responded defensively, at one point indicating the band in the pit liked the joke. He also was a bit insensitive regarding the age of some of the nominees as he mentioned octogenarians Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow, followed by senility jokes at their expense. Considering that Crystal himself is pushing 64 and that ageism besetting Hollywood is rampant with many talented professionals unemployed, it’s just not funny anymore.
As the three hour ten minute show progressed, they whizzed through awards at a relatively rapid pace. Instead of starting with a celebrity award, such as supporting actor and actress, they began with Tom Hanks presenting Oscars for cinematography and art direction, both of which went on the scorecard for Hugo.
There was a montage of film clips that moved along all right, but, unless I missed one, it appeared that it was as if movie history began with 1969’s Midnight Cowboy, because none of the featured films […]

Magnolia Takes US Rights to Rob Reiner’s THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE

HollywoodNews.com: The Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnolia Pictures announced today they have acquired US rights to THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE, a warmly funny drama directed by Rob Reiner, starring Morgan Freeman, Virginia Madsen, Madeline Carroll, Kenan Thompson, and Fred Willard. The film was written by Guy Thomas, and produced by Alan Greisman, Lori McCreary, Salli Newman and David Valdes.
Reuniting with his director from the hit film, The Bucket List, Freeman plays Monte Wildhorn, a famous Western novelist whose struggle with alcoholism has
sapped his passion for writing. He takes a lakeside cabin for the summer in picturesque Belle Isle, and befriends the family next door?an attractive single mom (Madsen) and her young daughters?who help him find inspiration again.
Magnolia plans a theatrical and VOD release in its Ultra VOD program in the summer.
‘We’re thrilled to get the chance to work with Rob Reiner on THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE,’ said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. ‘It’s a real pleasure to watch this stellar cast at the top of their game.’
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