July 11, 2015

Tag Archives: new york city

“San Andreas” continues to showcase Dwayne Johnson as a top tier action hero

We have more of almost everything at the movies these days, with one glaring exception: we don’t have nearly as many action heroes as we used to. Sure, there are plenty of action films opening with stars or up and comers in leading roles, saving the day, but very few true “action heroes”. One notable modern exception is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a certified A-list star of the action genre. He’s come a long way from just being The Rock, either in wrestling or his first on screen roles, but even removed from that, he’s a charismatic screen presence that holds the action hero title these days with aplomb. This week, he further cements his status with the disaster movie San Andreas.
In San Andreas, we get west coast spin on the disaster movie, leaving New York City alone for a moment to focus in on California. The film follows Johnson as a helicopter rescue pilot who tries to save his soon to be ex-wife and daughter in Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively as the Golden State sees the San Andreas fault crack open in literally Earth shaking quakes. He then goes on a mission to save his family, as you’d expect. Johnson stars, with Carla Gugino as his wife and Alexandra Daddario as his daughter. The cast also includes Paul Giamatti, Ioan Gruffudd, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson, Archie Panjabi, Kylie Minogue, Todd Williams, and Will Yun Lee. The director here is Brad Peyton, while the screenwriting team consists of Carlton Cuse, Andre Fabrizio, and Jeremy Passmore.
The special effects are the star of this one, but Johnson gives them a run for their money, demonstrating the screen presence and charisma that has made him the star that he now is in Hollywood. Those qualities made him the top pro wrestler of his generation, so it’s no surprise that he’s a ready made action hero. Initially, he coasted by on those qualities, but now he’s developed some acting chops to boot. He’s no Oscar nominee in the making (though anything is possible), but San Andreas represents one of his best performances to date, outside of Snitch and perhaps Pain and Gain as well. He’s a movie star through and through.
What makes Johnson not only one of the few action heroes we have, but one of the best, is how well he compliments whatever is happening on the screen. Be it car […]

Hugh Jackman: The 68th Annual Tony Awards® ‘By the Numbers’

Before Broadway’s biggest night on Sunday, June 8th, 44 productions will have opened on Broadway in the 2013-14 season. Of those productions, 12 were eligible for Best New Musical and 10 were eligible for Best New Play at the 68th Annual Tony Awards.
Before the Awards ceremony begins, the 110 Tony Award Nominees will walk down 210 feet of red carpet. The Nominees will join an expected 5,500 guests in Radio City Music Hall, which spans a full New York City block wide.
During the Tony Awards broadcast, the winners from 26 categories will be announced. These winners will each receive a Tony Award with its signature 3-inch-diameter Tony Medallion that spins atop a 9-inch-tall Tony Statue.
By the time they hit the stage at the 68th-Annual Tony Awards, many of the performers and productions appearing at this year?s Awards show will have accomplished the following:
· 908: Number of total costumes made this year by the eight Tony-nominated costume designers from Bullets Over Broadway, A Gentleman?s Guide to Love & Murder, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Act One, Casa Valentina, After Midnight, Machinal and Twelfth Night
· 478.5: Number of performances Alan Cumming has portrayed the Emcee in Cabaret on Broadway
· 337: Number of costumes in each performance of Aladdin
· 300: Number of raw eggs Tony Nominee Andy Karl has consumed on stage in Rocky
· 67: Number of votes Lyndon B. Johnson, played by Tony Nominee Bryan Cranston, gets to pass his proposed bill in All the Way
· 26: Number of Carole King?s hit songs featured in Beautiful ? The Carole King Musical
· 16: Carole King’s age when she wrote her first song, as told in Beautiful ? The Carole King Musical
· 5: Number of Tony Awards Nominee Audra McDonald has won in her career
· 4: The height (in inches) of Tony Nominee Neil Patrick Harris? highest pair of heels worn in Hedwig and the Angry Inch
· 1: Number of inches Hedwig is angry about
The Tony Awards will be broadcast in a live three-hour ceremony from Radio City Music Hall, on the CBS television network on Sunday, June 8, 2014, at 8pm ET. For more information on the Tony Awards, please visit www.TonyAwards.com.
TonyAwards.com, developed, produced, and hosted by IBM, is centerpiece of the Tony Awards digital platform that includes an interactive Second Screen (TonyAwards.com/secondscreen) to complement the CBS telecast on June 8; a Spotlight Series on potential nominees; Google+ […]

The Talent Search: Christians in Hollywood Part 2

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
Seventeen-year-old Nicole Smolen is an actress and Christian who works in Hollywood.
Smolen has appeared on such network TV shows as “Criminal Minds” and “Brothers & Sisters” and has been cast in feature films and a national TV commercial. But it’s her role in a new small-budget indie film called “8 Days” that makes her particularly proud.
In the yet-to-be released film, Smolen plays Amber Stevens, a 16-year-old from a well-off home who sneaks away to a high school party with friends and winds up drugged, kidnapped, raped and forced by pimps into the netherworld of sex trafficking.
But because those gritty elements contained in the plot are only the beginning of the storyline, Smolen believes she is not compromising her Christian faith.
“It’s a very inspirational story and I believe it will touch a lot of lives” Smolen told HollywoodNews. “All the profits go to safe houses (for victims of human trafficking) and people in need. It’s not like we’re profiting off of this.”
The role appealed to her, she noted, because “it’s a film that will benefit people and inform (moviegoers) about human trafficking….I don’t want to just be a typical teenaged girl (in films) who’s crazy about boys. I want films that cause change in people’s lives.”
Smolen credits Actors, Models & Talent for Christ, a faith-based nonprofit based in Tyrone, Ga., with helping hone her talents to the point where she and her parents decided to sell their home in Lawrenceville, Ga., and move to L.A. so that she could pursue an acting career. She said she still remains friends with people she met through AMTC and the network helps keep her grounded in an industry where success is often accompanied by rejection and periods of unemployment.
Never heard of Actors, Models & Talent for Christ? Since 2012 alone, the organization says it has trained between 2,000 and 3,000 people in the in’s and out’s of the entertainment and modeling industries.
The training isn’t cheap. This summer’s intensive six-day International Shine Conference scheduled July 1-6 in Orlando, Fla., costs $3,895 to $4,995 per person (a $300 discount applies if paid in full).
To attend the Shine conference, performers must first audition and be accepted. These auditions are held in cities throughout the United States. The next L.A.-area auditions are scheduled for June 21 in Pasadena and July 19 in Anaheim.
AMTC has its roots in a modeling convention that began […]

Are Passion Projects actually a good thing for filmmakers?

If you’re a lover of cinema like I am, there’s an inherent extra bit of interest on hand when a director announces that he or she is finally going to make a passion project of theirs. Just this year, we’ve seen Darren Aronofsky finally get Noah to the big screen, while Richard Linklater completed his more than a decade in the making Boyhood in time for the Sundance Film Festival. Almost two years ago, Steven Spielberg brought his vision of Lincoln to the Oscar ceremony, and next year Martin Scorsese seems at long last set to shoot his own passion project Silence. They happen every single year, but the thing is…are they actually a good thing?
Obviously, the upside to passion projects is that the filmmaker in question is almost obsessed with making it as good as possible. They’ve perhaps even had a one track mind for years with these projects. When done right, you get Oscar contenders like the aforementioned Lincoln. It doesn’t always go that way, but when it’s a success, it always seems like a bigger success.
The downside however, is that sometimes it can blind said filmmakers to the inherent issues with the project. Look no further than this year’s Winter’s Tale or 2012’s Cloud Atlas. In the former’s case, Akiva Goldsman encountered near venomous reviews and in the latter’s case, the trio of Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer received as many reviews calling it the worst movie of the year as they did calling it the best. Both films suffered potentially from filmmakers too emotionally invested in the material to see where changes needed to be made.
Earlier this year, Aronofsky’s film Noah met with decidedly mixed reviews, some of which stemming from thoughts that he should have taken a more objective look at the movie. Granted, some of the issues came from his deviations from the religious text, and that’s not a legitimate criticism to me, but the purely cinematic issues are ones that I find to be somewhat valid. Aronofsky is a master filmmaker, but the two films that he received less than raves for were his passion projects (the other one being The Fountain, ironically one of my all time favorite films). Coincidence?
We’ll see soon with Scorsese’s Silence if all this time spent waiting to make the flick will help or hurt it. He spent a long time trying to make Gangs of […]

Emma Stone and Andy Cohen Co-Host 17th Annual EIF Revlon Run/Walk For Women

Emma Stone (Revlon Global Brand Ambassador) and Andy Cohen co-hosted the 17th Annual EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women this morning in New York. Created by the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), Revlon and Lilly Tartikoff, the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women has become one of the largest single-day fundraisers for women’s cancers in the United States. More than 15,000 participants joined the race to help raise critical funds to support women’s cancer research, counseling and outreach programs.
The event featured a special opening performance by recording artist Matt Goss and appearances by Karen Duffy and Denise Austin.
Registration is still open for the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 10, hosted by Halle Berry (Revlon Global Brand Ambassador) with Christina Applegate.
To register, please visit http://do.eifoundation.org/site/TR?fr_id=1151&pg=entry
Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Image

Could a Best Picture nominee launch from Cannes this year?

In the pretty near future, the lineup for the 2014 Cannes Film Festival will be announced. We already know that potential Oscar player Grace of Monaco will be there, but what else could debut at Cannes and then potentially appeal to Academy members? This particular festival isn’t nearly as awards season centric as the New York or Toronto Film Festivals are (or the Telluride Film Festival, for that matter), but we always get a contender or two to discuss. Last year we had Blue is the Warmest Color debut, while future nominees like The Great Beauty, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Nebraska unspooled as well. That got me thinking about what this year’s slate could have inside of it for prognosticators like myself to chew on…
Below you’ll find five titles that I think could have a chance at turning the heads of voters, provided of course that they play at the fest. I’ve opted to focus on American movies just because those are the ones that the Academy tends to focus in on themselves, though of course there are exceptions from time to time like Amour. Still, big time contenders (and even the occasional Best Picture winner like No Country for Old Men) tend to be english language outings. Anyway, now I’ll dive in and speculate about five likely Cannes titles that could have a chance to woo members of the Academy.
1. Birdman – There’s a chance that this comedy from Alejandro González Iñárritu could be too offbeat for Oscar voters, but they’ve gone out on dramatic limbs with him before, so if this tale of a washed up actor doesn’t get too weird for them, there are tons of nomination opportunities. This could also be the role that nabs Michael Keaton his first Academy Award nomination too, so there’s that. This one could either get shut out or be a huge player, but it’s potentially the most likely to transition to awards season attention. We’ll see if it actually debuts at Cannes, but I think it’s highly likely that it will.
2. Magic in the Moonlight – Another highly likely title for the fest, Woody Allen’s next movie is set in France, so that only makes it even more apt for a slot. That being said, of late Allen has basically seen every other film of his become Oscar players, so this could be the off year for him. Still, it’s likely […]

The Oscars® were no enormous shame, a few good jokes, no great shocks

I’m a big fan of Ellen DeGeneres and her understated, often brilliant humor. This was most evident when she hosted the 2001 Emmy Awards after the horrific events in New York and Washington that year. The show was postponed twice, and when it finally aired a couple of months later the big question was how it could be entertaining?
Almost from the outset Ellen delivered. To paraphrase what she said, it was something like the terrorists could not break our spirit. Then she paused and deadpanned that only network executives could do that.

It was funny, unexpected yet absolutely true. It related to the events just passed, but broke the ice and allowed the show to go on to its true purpose after the long delay.

The Oscars Rate a B-Minus.
I wish I could say Ellen’s performance last night rose to that occasion. Though it generally retained the dignity and glamour that audiences expect, something lost in last year’s show hosted by Seth MacFarlane, it was mostly bland with repetitive jokes and occasional good moments. Having said that, I cringed a bit when Ellen repeated out loud and very slowly a compliment to Nebraska supporting actress nominee June Squibb, whom Ellen had termed the oldest Oscar nominee ever, as if the actress were almost deaf and needed careful attention to hear her remarks.

Throughout the ABC show, Ellen drew from a past playbook and redid bits from the last time she hosted in 2007, often appearing in the audience, talking with this celebrity or that and taking photos. In one segment she asked if anyone was hungry, which drew very few responses and went on much too long. However, when a pizza man arrived later in the show, though only with three pizzas, it was amusing to see how many celebrities accepted a slice, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford. And that no one initially responded to Ellen’s request for donations to pay the man.
To read Michael Russnow’s latest book, “Hollywood on the Danube,” go to www.createspace.com/4497564

I’d thought sometime later it would have been funny if the delivery man, denied payment, started taking back the pizza slices from Meryl, Julia and the others. However, they eventually paid the bit off when Ellen passed a hat into which producer Harvey Weinstein threw two hundred dollars and several celebrities forked over twenty or more dollars each. By my count that was over three hundred […]

Hollywood: Welcome to Hard Times

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
These are strange times in Hollywood. Turbulent times.Grieving times. Warring times. Bieber times. Noah times.
To be sure, Hollywood wouldn’t be Hollywood without being a little off its axis. But the events of recent weeks make Tinseltown seem almostas if the tectonic plates are shifting and we’re all about to be swallowed upin a giant, sucking sinkhole along with those vintage Corvettes.
There was Fast and Furious star Paul Walker dying senselessly in a horrible car crash.
There was the shocking news that the brilliant award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman had died. In New York. In his Greenwich Village apartment. In the bathroom. A syringe in his arm. Five empty packets and dozens more full of heroin. The lights of Broadway were dimmed in his honor.
Then, like a Dementor swooping down on the Hogwarts Express,bespectacled Woody Allen found himself dueling with his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow, 28, who accused the celebrated actor/director of molesting her when she was only 7 years old. Allen flatly denied it but the accusations made everyone feel creepy and wondering who wastelling the truth? The feud even spilled over into the Oscars with Best Actressnominee Cate Blanchett, the star of Allen’s Blue Jasmine being singled out by Farrow for professionally associating with Allen. ‘What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett?’she wrote, listing other celebrities who had also worked with Allen over the years.
It was left to Page Six to supply more details on the untimely death of Julia Roberts’ half-sister Nancy Motes, who is said to have tweeted ‘Just so you all know ‘America’s Sweetheart’ is a B***H’ in the weeks before Motes died of a drug overdose. In October last year Motes also spoke about a family rift, reportedly tweeting: ‘It’s a shame when you get more support from strangers than you do from your family. I can’t wait to officially belong to another family!’ It sounded all the more poignant when you read that Motes had once harbored her own Tinseltown dreams.
The grieving poured forth again this week with the deaths oftwo icons: Shirley Temple and Sid Caesar.
Shirley and Sid were, of course, now elderly so their deathswere not unexpected, but it tugged at the heartstrings because they stillentertain us whenever their films or TV shows are aired on television.
Shirley, arms pumping with that curly top and dimpled chin,couldn’t extend her appeal beyond youth, but in adulthood she managed to […]

Tom Hanks gets standing ovation for Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy”

Tom Hanks got a wildly enthusiastic standing ovation last night as he made his Broadway debut with Nora Ephron’s “Lucky Guy.” The response was not just from friends and fans because they like Hanks, but because his portrayal of Mike McAlary is such a moving, funny, and lovely experience. This was my second time seeing “Lucky Guy” and I do admit to having a soft spot for it. Ephron captured life in a New York newsroom between 1985 and 1998 perfectly. A lot of the specifics of McAlary’s life have been telescoped to fit a normal running time. But even taking dramatic license, Ephron worked in enough to capture the triumphs and the hubris.

And Hanks broke down in tears at the end of the show, when a curtain pulled back on stage to reveal a large portrait of Ephron, who died last July. “Nothing like sharing a personal moment with 11,000 strangers,” Tom said to me later at the afterparty at Gotham Hall. But those were real tears. “Nora and I were always showing each other what we were writing. I ran into her in London last year, and she said, ‘You know I finished that thing.’ I read it and said, What can we do with this now?”
Hanks is not alone on the stage. And under George C. Wolfe’s heartfelt direction, the supporting cast each gets a chance to shine, from Peter Gerety to Courtney B. Vance to Peter Scolari and Christopher MacDonald.
So was there? Who wasn’t there? Loads of folks from the New York tabloids, starting with eminence, Pete Hamill. The Times was represented by current editor in chief Jill Abramson and past legend Gay Talese. The News was there in the person of Mort Zuckerman, who is referred to in “Lucky Guy” as “the owner.” He may have winced at some of the references.
To read more go to www.showbiz411.com
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Tribeca Film Festival announced the lineup for the 7th annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival

The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) today announced the lineup for the seventh annual Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival. Founded to broaden the audience for independent film through stories about sports and competition, this year’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival will consist of nine films, including four titles from ESPN Films’ highly anticipated “Nine for IX” series which celebrates the fortieth anniversary of Title IX with nine documentary films about women in sports directed by outstanding female filmmakers.
The 2013 Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival will run during the 12th edition of TFF, presented by American Express, April 17 – April 28 at locations around New York City.
The Festival revealed that the world premiere of Big Shot, directed by Kevin Connolly, will serve as the gala premiere of the program on Friday, April 19. Connolly is returning to Tribeca having debuted his feature film Gardener of Eden in 2007. In Big Shot, Connolly chronicles John Spano’s fraudulent purchase of the New York Islanders. In 1997, Spano bought the New York Islanders for a staggering $165 million. The scheme behind Spano’s acquisition of the team is revealed as Big Shot takes viewers behind the scenes of the biggest fraud in hockey history.
“The sports film offerings at this year’s Festival give sports fans and movie buffs tremendous opportunities to experience the many ways that sports intersect with our culture,” said Genna Terranova, Tribeca Film Festival Director of Programming. “We are excited that Big Shot, which chronicles one of the most infamous sagas in professional sports management history, will kick-off this year’s Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, and to share the range of these personal stories seem through the lens of sports.”
“I’ve always thought the expression ‘passion project’ was kind of a cliché until I started working on Big Shot for ESPN,” said Kevin Connolly. “Working side by side and spending time with guys that I literally grew up idolizing has been a once in a lifetime opportunity. The whole experience, including having the film premiere in New York at the festival, has been a dream come true.”
“There are many vibrant, independent voices out there telling incredible sports stories and we’re honored to be involved with the Tribeca Film Festival where together we can shine a light on these documentaries and filmmakers,” said Connor Schell, vice president of ESPN Films. “We produce our films with the intention of capturing both the glory and the heartbreak of […]

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