February 24, 2008
Who is Ryan Seacrest?
"Who is Ryan Seacrest, and what is he doing on national television?"
The first paragraph of his web site bio shares the key stuff:
With his successful broadcasting career, it's no wonder why he was recently awarded a prestigious star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and why he was voted as one of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful,” as well as one of their 2005 “Most Eligible Bachelors.” With Ryan Seacrest Productions (RSP) becoming a known entity producing and hosting multiple television and radio specials, his many restaurant investments, as well as the launch of the R Line, Seacrest is redefining what it means to be an entrepreneur and a triple threat in Hollywood.
He's a known entity.
Best line about Ryan's gravitas goes to the New York Post, which blogged:
Like I said, he makes Joan Rivers look like Edward R. Murrow.
January 25, 2007
Our Late Analog Planet
On page 31 of the production notes for Catch and Release, the new Jennifer Garner romantic dramedy, the biography of composer BT states that he:
is the creative force currently driving digital songwriting and soundscaping in its evolution into the audio-visual-spiritual art-form that will define and inspire the human narrative of the 21st Century. He is re-mastering the obsolete soundtrack of our late analog planet, reassmbling from the chaos of smashed bytes blurring our sampled lives a new paradigm of beauty for "This Binary Universe" - which happens to be the title of his most recent release.
But can we dance to it?
January 24, 2007
School of Rocky
If you're cocky enough to think you know more minutae about the Italian Stallion than any other movie-going mook, stop by The Broadway Theatre in Pitman, N.J. Thursday night for a chance to win $500.
Doors open at 6:45 p.m. The trivial challenge begins at 7:30. A showing of Rocky Balboa starts at 8:30. Admission: $5 for adults, $3 for children and seniors.
Prizes will be awarded to the best Rocky impersonator and the person with the grungiest sweatshirt. We don't make this up.
January 23, 2007
On The Bus
I can now kid him about Laws of Attraction. I can tell him I didn't have the stomach to rent The Honeymooners remake.
He woke up at 4 a.m. this morning, Los Angeles time, and decided he needed a shave. It was dark. No one else was awake. He was pacing heavily. In a few hours, he would learn if the film he had put his heart into for several years was nominated for an Academy Award.
The odds were good. Sunday night, the Producers Guild of America had picked the film for its best feature award. Tom Cruise handed him and the other four producers an award on stage. Friendly later described that as totally surreal.
The Oscar nominations are announced alphabetically. When it was time for the Ls, it was another movie mentioned, Letters From Iwo Jima, the Clint Eastwood film in Japanese.
"My heart sunk," Friendly said by phone this morning.
Then they announced Little Miss Sunshine.
Across the country, I gave a hoot, too, as I heard the news over the radio.
I will not have to watch Big Momma's House 2 ever again.
January 15, 2007
"Wrinkly Golden Globes"
In case you were watching 24 ...
The ticker shows it's one hour and 18 minutes until the start of the dreamy Golden Globes marathon, and already we're glued to the TV Guide Channel, where Joan Rivers is conducting her annual pre-game show, getting actor James Woods to pretend that he is talking to his dog.
This is our favorite part of the awards show in our house. Four teenage boys are making flying monkey noises each time the camera shows the face under those blonde tresses. "She's like, what?" asks my son, "80 years old?"
Rivers has a light touch on the red carpet. "You make a lovely couple," she says to Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. "I hope this one really works."
I have been busy flagging inflationary terms - "brilliant," "excellent," "spectacular," "amazing," "wonderful." These on-the-spot interviews summon so much good-will from the celebs that I'm convinced we should export them to the world's trouble spots to promote peace on earth.
Don't hate the boozy Golden Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association awards voted on by those sometimes-employed schnorrers who would "cross the Alps for a hot dog," in the immortal words of one wag.
The awards ceremony has come a long way, from ridicule and scandal to a camera-ready event that attracts all the big names.
The foreign press association site describes the awards' history in somber tones - going on about its struggle in the early '40s, the war effort, the pioneers who had trouble convincing Hollywood of the importance of overseas markets.
Inquirer film critic Carrie Rickey describes its current hold in snarkier tones - painting the event as "the most mutually beneficial daisy chain in the history of advertorial arrangements."
In truth, the ceremony tonight does not seem as much fun as the run-up. (Looks like this is not a radical opinion.) Don't tell me all these beautiful people are taking the awards seriously. The early speeches drone on. It takes a while for the band to strike up when someone starts name-checking agents and accountants, and it's time to get the hook.
(This might be the time to check out The Evil Beet's review of favorite Golden Globes dresses.)
There are highlights, though - Hugh Laurie (Dr. Gregory House) confessing that he's literally speechless upon winning best TV drama. He wishes that among the endless swag sent his way over the past few weeks, someone had thought to include a free speech by Dolce & Gabbana.
Meryl Streep helpfully suggests an approach we all can take with our local metroplex managers, so we can see gems like Little Children and Pan's Labyrinth and not just the mass-appeal flicks: "It's amazing what you can get if you quietly, clearly and authoritatively demand it."
And we'll be searching for Sacha Baron Cohen's YouTube moment when he vividly thanks the genitals of his 300-pound co-star, Ken Davitian. Said speech caused his burly co-star, seated at the Borat table, to start chugging his wine from the bottle.
Anyway, lots of Golden Globe goodies on the Internets right now. Will add more. Among the highlights:
The IRS killed the swag bag. A Blogcritics post describes the loot laid on last year's celebrity presenters: a $2000 gym membership, a $1,200 diamond pendant, an $865 Chopard watch, a $475 camera phone, handbags, MP3 players, and a slew of gift certificates - all valued at the paltry total of $40,000.
The Broadcast - Tanya Barrientos and Karen Heller's dishy podcast - takes on the Globes.
The Daily News' Ellen Gray blogged the hog from Los Angeles.
All of Defamer's Golden Globes coverage in one neat package -- and more words like these:
deep in our hearts, we suspect that performers can never possibly be drunk enough, dispirited enough, or engulfed in the raging flames of nullification enough to please us, the jaded kudocast viewer. But still we watch, because settling in for three-plus hours of watching well-dressed famous people handing gilded trinkets to other famous people (who then go on to recite a list of names of still more people, some of them familiar to us) momentarily makes us feel better about the acute lack of attractive celebrities handing us shiny objects in our own, small, tragically un-televised lives.
December 18, 2006
Hollywood Today contends that the whole unknown-who-convinces-a-studio-to-let-him-star-in-his-own-screenplay story was just that - a story, cooked up by spinners and served by Stallone, himself.
Accounts of the day had Stallone walking into United Artists with his hand-written script and not giving up until they agreed to let him play Rocky. Studio heads told that tale. Stallone, himself, told it while doing press for the 1976 Oscar winner.
But according to the piece by Alex Ben Block - published as the sixth and final Rocky movie is about to open - no one at United Artists objected to Stallone playing Rocky. They never even met him before filming. It was such a low-budget project for the producers that UA paid it little attention. Some execs assumed that Perry King was gong to play the title role. (At one point the studio head asked why a blond, blue-eyed actor would be playing an Italian-American club fighter from Philly. The answer - his people were northern Italians - worked, and the matter was dropped.)
Block, a former associate editor at Forbes, writes in the new online magazine that he started working on his little expose five years ago. Parts had been made public before. (It looks like here's one such piece, a 2002 Entertainment Weekly feature.) Block talked to several former studio execs, and quoted them by name:
We came up with a tremendous publicity campaign,” recalled Gabe Sumner, then head of marketing at UA. “It was about how this unknown guy named Sylvester Stallone walked into our office with a script and the company was prepared to buy the script, but Stallone said, ‘I’m not going to sell it to you unless I star in the film.’ And we (supposedly) said, ‘No way.’ And he said, ‘Well, you can’t have the script.’ And we said, ‘We will give you $18,000.’ And that was the figure we used. And a deal was made and Stallone could star in this film which he wrote. And he got all of $18,000. Now is this true? It was horsesh*t! But it worked. It promoted the whole underdog concept and kept on going.”
“I don’t have to tell you how the press feeds on the underdog story,” said Sumner. “It filled up space on entertainment pages, and in columns looking for something for the next day. They ate up the idea that this actor loved his work so much, and was willing to sell it for a nickel and a dime in order to make it, blah, blah, blah. It all became part of the underdog fabric that brought people in. Period. They just totally bought into it.”
Former UA president Eric Plescow told Block:
"The story suited him. He eventually started to believe his own story."
Stallone's own Web site bio puts it this way:
With the money earned from (The Lords of Flatbush), Stallone left New York for Hollywood, He again began to make the rounds to studios and casting agents, managing to get a few small roles in television and movies. He also continued to pursue writing. Prizefighter Rocky Balboa was born and given life in a script Stallone wrote in longhand. Several producers offered to buy the screenplay, wanting to cast a name star in the title role, which Stallone insisted on playing himself. Although his bank balance was barely $100, Stallone held fast- and his perseverance finally paid off.
The Defamer blog was properly horrified at the Hollywood Today report:
We'll pause for a moment to let you recover from the existential taint-tasering you've no doubt experienced from the suggestion that publicists might fabricate such a story to sell a movie, as we all know that every word from a flack's lips should be treated as if it were delivered from the heavens by God's most trusted archangel. But now we're forced to consider the implications that this report holds for the current Rocky Balboa campaign, including the possibility that Sylvester Stallone has not, in fact, been prevented from reclaiming his onetime megastardom by callously sexagenarian-shunning Hollywood studios, and has intentionally avoided working for the past decade just to hype this alleged "desperate comeback vehicle."
And at Philadelphia Will Do, D-Mac wrote:
This shocking truth that a PR flack might say something untrue will no doubt cause many Rocky series fans to go into convulsions.
November 16, 2006
"Can you do it?"
November 09, 2006
Borat For A Day
Technically, he kept missing his deadline, says Inquirer film critic Carrie Rickey, who prepared straight-man prompts for the fictional Kazakhstani journalist played by Sacha Baron Cohen to answer in time for last Friday's opening of his mockumentary Borat!: The Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
Cohen was not doing interviews. He was only answering e-mails as Borat.
But Borat turned out to be over-booked. Something about having to do Conan O'Brien, his flak explained.
So, I thought, maybe, since you guys are pretty clever, why don't you answer them????? Some or all. As Borat, of course. You probably don't even have to have seen the movie to be good at it.
The writer of the funniest answers - Carrie will be the judge - wins a three-year-old female yak, budget cuts permitting. (My wife just read that. "There is no yak," she said, skeptically.) Here goes:
We read that Kyrgystan, the country bordering yours, is the Switzerland of Central Asia. Is Kazakhstan Malibu on the Caspian?
You have many nomads in Kazakhstan. Do they need real estate brokers?
How is television news in your nation different from that in the United States?
How do you get chickens in suitcase past the TSA inspectors?
You’ve traveled across the United States. Which state is most like the Republic of Kazakhstan? Why?
In your documentary you say that your country’s major problems are “economic, social and the Jew.” What are the United States’ major problems?
Would Mel Gibson’s cultural views about Jews would make him a viable political candidate in Kazazhstan? Could he beat Nursultan Nazarbayev? Could Arnold Schwarzenegger? Pamela Anderson?
For a Kazakhstani, what are Pamela Anderson’s greatest assets?
Is it true that your nation’s most popular television show is “Kazakhstan’s Next Top Prostitute”? What is second-most popular show?
In your nation you drive a horse-drawn automobile. Who is the manufacturer and what is the model name?
In your documentary we see you washing your laundry in Central Park lake. Is cleaner than Caspian?
Does Kazakhstani humor travel to America? Does American humor travel to Kazakhstan?
What is your favorite kind of sexy time?
What hair products do you use?
What’s on your iPod?
What’s are the main differences between American and Kazakhistani plumbing?
Is true that you are in a program for addiction?
Do you support America’s war in Iraq?
Caviar or fishsticks? Why?
Need inspiration? Maybe this guy can help.
November 05, 2006
Piece Of The Rock
A. Thomas Schomberg, the Colorado sculptor who cast the well-traveled Rocky statue now back at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is making the big guy in mantelpiece sizes.
A 12-inch version of the knick-knack champ, cast in resin and hand-painted, can be had for $98. A 20-inch edition is bronze-plated as well, and goes for $468.
And if you're really into it, you might want one of 1,976 exact replica versions of the 20-inch statue, numbered, cast in bronze and set on a marble base. They're selling for $2,600 a pop.
(If you are from Texas, there's an even bigger one available. Read on.)
The statues have been licensed by Schomberg Studios and MGM Studios, which is releasing the sixth and final Rocky movie, Rocky Balboa, Dec. 22. You'll be able to but them online at the studios' Web sites as well as at some gift shops.
Schomberg's Web site tells the story behind the big guy. In 1980 Sylvester Stallone proposed to the sculptor that he create a monumental statue for Rocky III. Schomberg created a 30-inch wax model of the fighter, arms raised, face stoic, in classic Greek form. Realizing the actor would have limited time to pose, Schomberg first produced a mask of Stallone's face. The sculptor recalls Stallone's reaction:
"When Sly arrived at my studio he found a figure that was more representational of his earlier image of Rocky from the previous movies, namely a heavier appearing physique. However, at the time of this modeling session, Sly had worked very hard at chiseling his body into a trimmer and leaner appearance, and his comment at the time was, "I'm going to be a stick and jab kind of boxer.' "
So Schomberg trimmed the fighter's shape down to what you see today. Next step was casting the mold in bronze and plaster, then enlarging them by a series of measurements and multiplications. The final sculpture was modeled in oil-based clay, then cast in bronze to create the statue that stands 12 feet 8 inches from the bottom of the pedestal to the top of his gloves and weighs 1,400 pounds.
Schomberg has since made a second full-scale Rocky statue - it stands in the San Diego Hall of Champions. Philanthropist Robert Breitbard purchased it. There was a dedication ceremony Thursday.
Which doesn't make the one outside the Philadelphia museum any less a work of art.
The sculptor is at work on a third and final life-sized statue, said his spokeswoman Ginny Buckley. "It has yet to be determined where it will rest," she said.
One thing is known - it will not be auctioned off on eBay. Schomberg studios had allowed the International Institute for Sport and Olympic History at State College, PA., to try to raise money on eBay by auctioning one of the statues. Bidding started at $5 million, then $3 million, then $1 million. No one made a qualifying bid.
"That's not happening again," Buckley said.
September 26, 2006
This would be a clever bit of reporting, if I hadn't stolen the idea wholecloth from Jane Magazine's guest blogger, Lindsay Robertson, who seems to have pinched it from a friend who writes Cinetrix, who owes it all to the Los Angeles Times, which might have actually committed an original act of journalism and come up with the notion itself:
What would it show, anthropologically speaking, if we used Netflix' "local favorites" feature to show which movies are rented most often in which neighborhoods.
After seconds of in-depth research, I can report that Philadelphia's favorite movie - that is its "unique," the DVD people are renting that distinguishes Philadelphia from other markets - is ...
Philadelphians are loving the 30-year-old war horse from Society Hill to Chestnut Hill.
Based on all of my reporting, I would like to move to Yardley. This Bucks County burg has pretty edgy tastes in cinema.
It's most-rented flick was that slyly metaphoric Romanian classic, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, which Netflix describes as a drama that follows an ailing old man who awaits his end, as a weary paramedic shuttles him between hospitals. It's the first of a series of stories planned from around Bucharest, which I can report is the only European capital where I have been chased through the streets by packs of wild dogs.
But I digress.
Netflix - a service where you go online to pick the movies you want to watch, then they send them to your home via the U.S. mail - isn't used enough everywhere to have generated local information. My neighborhood must be a Hollywood Video kind of place. I'm two weeks into a Netflix trial to see if it makes sense, given my knack for generating late fees.
But there's data for places across the region, from Haddonfield, N.J. to Kennett Square, Mt. Airy to Swarthmore.
God love Haddonfield. No. 1 there is Wrong Turn, which features cannibalistic mountain men. Stay classy.
Swarthmore swings for Fever Pitch, which turned Nick Hornby's obsession with British football into Jimmy Fallon's obsession with the Boston Red Sox.
Kennett Square goes for Murder By Numbers, starring Sandra Bullock as a homicide squad detective, profiling two brilliant young killers. Sounds like TV fare, but the Chester County town gets points for its second choice, Transamerica. Don't let anybody tell you the suburbs are boring.
Some of the results leave you thinking, Duh! Who among us would be stunned that Las Vegas loves Larry the Cable Guy? Or that Pittsburgh can't get enough of Super Bowl XL. Or that New York's favorite flick is called New York.
But the Netflixers of Beverly Hills show some taste with their No.2. choice. -- The Philadelphia Story.