Winona Ryder back in ‘The Iceman’
Winona Ryderis still pale, diminutive and breathtakingly pretty. She still peppers her speech with the vocalized pauses of her teen years — “you know.”
But the star of Heathers, Mermaids and Edward Scissorhands is 41. Yes, you’re allowed to feel “old” now — but just for a moment.
Because Ryder, years removed from her Oscar-nominated/Golden Globe winning heyday in films such as The Age of Innocence and Little Women, almost a decade removed from the career-crippling bad press of a shoplifting conviction, is on the brink of being a hot property all over again. Not that she’s been looking for this.
“As you get older, and you get to a certain place in your life, you get more selective,” she says. “But I am starting to appreciate being the age that I am and finding roles that I couldn’t play before, because I was just too young. Even if I was the right age, I didn’t look the right age.”
She’s still “fragile” and “vulnerable, not just as an actress, but as a person,” director Ariel Vroman says. He cast her as the female lead in his acclaimed new true story hit-man thriller, The Iceman, opening Friday, pairing the dainty Ryder up with the formidable Michael Shannon, who plays murderer-for-hire Richie Kuklinski.
Critics are agreeing, with London’s Independent newspaper calling her turn as the unknowing mob wife “touching and credible” and The Hollywood Reporter enthusing that “she brings a lovely ethereal quality to Deborah, as well as a certain willful blindness.”
That was Ryder’s chief task in this film, to be a 1960s woman courted by a man who keeps his work life secret.
“I did the opposite of research for this part,” Ryder says. “I went into denial, like Deborah. I didn’t want to know about the real crimes. I wanted to do what she was doing, block it out.”
She worked with the costume designer to construct this woman, “who liked having money, liked her life. We started with the shoes, because a woman who wears heels is different from a woman who wears sandals.” Deborah shows up well put together in scene after scene — a Valentino suit here, another perfect ensemble there — “because whatever she didn’t want to know about his work, she didn’t want to be broke. These people had money, thanks to all this killing her husband was doing.”
With the James Franco/Jason Statham film Homefront in the can and other projects in the works, Ryder faces her latest busy stretch with the perspective of someone who didn’t work much at all for a few years. And that taught her “balance.”
“When you make movies, back to back to back, life becomes all about you. You have people who are important in your life who need you, and you’re like, ‘Let me finish this movie and I’ll be there for you.’ It’s equally as important for me to be happy in my life, to be as present as I can and appreciate each day and be a good person, friend, sibling, all of that stuff.”
'The Voice': Shakira Confirms Season 5 Exit, Usher Expected to Follow
Former coach Christina Aguilera has inked a deal to return to the hit NBC program, while Cee Lo Green is said to also be negotiating a comeback.
Days after news surfaced that Christina Aguilera was in talks to return to the hit NBC series, with Cee Lo Green reportedly hot on her heels, season four coach Shakira confirms that she will not be back for the show’s fifth season.
"It was a hard decision for me to make, because I'm really fond of the coaches, the people in production and everybody around me," she told E! News. "And I really enjoyed The Voice, but I also have a musical career and I'm also a mother now and my poor baby's so tired flying such long distances. He already has more miles than any pilot. So I think I have to give him a little break, and we'll see what happens in the future."
Usher, too, could be on his way out the door.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that a season five return is unlikely for the R&B singer, since he’s committed to shooting Hands of Stone (in which he’ll play Sugar Ray Leonard) opposite Robert De Niro.
The return of Aguilera and Green is not unexpected. Burnett told THR last summer that artists of such stature (Adam Levine and Blake Shelton fill out the panel this season) have other musical commitments that could see them take extended breaks from the show’s big red chairs. “These are current touring artists, so it’s a matter of balancing schedules,” he said. “They’re all in demand, and we’re just balancing it all.”
Meanwhile, Green is slated to return to the current season of The Voice as a guest mentor next week.
In revealing its 2013-14 schedule Sunday, the network announced that The Voice will keep the same two-hour block on Mondays, though Tuesday's one-hour episode has shifted to 9 p.m. It is likely that Shelton and Levine will also return to their posts for season five.
NBC had no comment.
Angelina Jolie's Shocking Revelation: I Had a Double Mastectomy
The actress writes in a New York Times op-ed piece that she underwent the preventive surgery because of her high risk of breast cancer.
Angelina Jolie is taking no chances with her health.Angelina Jolie's 'Salt' Sequel Hiring 'Prince of Tides' Writer (Exclusive)
The actress revealed in an op-ed piece for The New York Times, running in Tuesday's edition of the paper, that she recently underwent a preventive double mastectomy because of her high risk of breast cancer.
Doctors told Jolie -- whose mother, Marcheline Bertrand, died six years ago at age 56 after a 10-year battle with ovarian cancer -- that she carries a "faulty" gene, BRCA1. They estimated that she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.
"Once I knew that this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and to minimize the risk as much I could," she wrote. "I made a decision to have a preventive double mastectomy. I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex."
Jolie underwent three months of medical procedures, which began Feb. 2 and were completed April 27. The procedures included reconstruction of both breasts with implants.
Jolie added that she was able to continue working during that time while keeping the procedures a secret.
"But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience," she wrote. "Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action."
She said it wasn't an easy decision for her to make, but her chances of developing breast cancer have dropped to less than five percent.
"I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer," she wrote. "It is reassuring that they see nothing that makes them uncomfortable. They can see my small scars and that’s it. Everything else is just Mommy, the same as she always was. And they know that I love them and will do anything to be with them as long as I can. On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity."
Jolie was treated at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, which has four locations in the Los Angeles area and also has treated breast cancer survivor Sheryl Crow. Jolie wrote that her regimen will be posted on the center's website soon.
She also noted that Brad Pitt, her longtime partner with whom she has six children, has been "loving and supportive" throughout the entire process.
"For any woman reading this, I hope it helps you to know you have options," she wrote. "I want to encourage every woman, especially if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices."
Barbara Walters on Retiring: 'This Is What I Want to Do'
"The View" pays tribute to broadcast legend after she officially announces her 2014 departure.
The View paid tribute to a tearful Barbara Walters on Monday morning, hours after the broadcast legend officially announced that she will step down in summer 2014.
Walters wiped away tears at the top of the show, which opened with a montage of career highlights including her ABC interviews with a range of headline-makers from Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to Monica Lewinsky and narrated by the trailblazing TV icon herself. "I wasn't beautiful," she said, adding: "I have trouble pronouncing my 'Rs' ... I still do."
Afterward, the 83-year-old Walters -- surrounded by View panelists Sherri Shepherd, Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg and Elisabeth Hasselbeck -- exclaimed: "I have been on television for over ... 50 years!" With wistful remembrance, she called her storied history on network television "joyful," "challenging" and "occasionally bumpy."
Walters said she will continue to executive produce The View along with Bill Geddie but would not appear on "any show." But she noted: "I will come back -- I'm not going into the sunset."
Said Walters: "I'm perfectly healthy. ... And this is what I want to do."
Sitting in the front row of the studio audience: Ben Sherwood, President, ABC News; Anne Sweeney, Co-chairman, Disney Media Networks; president, Disney/ABC Television Group; Paul Lee, President, ABC Entertainment; and Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of Disney, ABC's parent company.
Iger got Walters misty-eyed when he praised the "quality" of her work and said he wasn't sure anybody would continue to match it.
Addressing the media mogul, who plans to retire in 2015, Walters asked: "What are you gonna do? What are we gonna do?" Well, Iger said, "The two of us love to dance. I saw we go on Dancing With the Stars."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and rapper-actor LL Cool J were among the guests on Monday's installment of the long-running chatfest, which heads into its 17th season this fall.
"I love you," Walters told Bloomberg. "Even if you don't like very tall soft drinks."
Shepherd called Walters "innovative" and commended her boss for hiring two African-American women as co-hosts on the View panel. Meanwhile, Behar addressed Walters' remarks that she "wasn't beautiful," saying: "I think you were."
On Sunday night, Walters released a statement through ABC New announcing that she would confirm her retirement on Monday's edition of The View, the program she launched in 1997.
"I am very happy with my decision and look forward to a wonderful and special year ahead both on The View and with ABC News," she said. "I created The View and am delighted it will last beyond my leaving it."
Ray Donovan' Producer Makes $1 Million Bond in Gambling Case
Bryan Zuriff is now out of custody on supervised release.
Bryan Zuriff, executive producer of Showtime‘s new drama series Ray Donovan, has been released after his indictment for being part of an alleged gambling and money laundering ring
He was one of 34 individuals charged last month by a New York federal prosecutor with participating in activities sourced to the Russian mob. Other defendants include Hillel Nahmad, who ran the Helly Nahmad gallery inside the Carlyle Hotel, and Hollywood's "Poker Princess" Molly Bloom, who once admitted to arranging high-stakes poker games in Hollywood that included the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Tobey Maguire, Ben Affleck and others.
Zuriff has pleaded "not guilty" to charges and, on Friday, a $1 million personal recognizance bond was entered into federal court. The bond is a promise to pay -- and it's secured by his California home and two co-signers.
According to the indictment, Zuriff was among several individuals who "operated an illegal bookmaking business that utilized gambling websites operating illegally in the United States."
He was arraigned on April 19. The terms of his bail restrict his travel to California and New York, require regular pre-trial supervision and cut off contact between him and fellow co-defendants. Others in the case have also been released. For example, Bloom is out on a $100,000 bond while Nahmad is free on a $10 million bond being secured by his Trump Tower apartment. (Nahmad has also been required to undergo drug testing.)
Zuriff, who previously was an executive producer on the 2009 film The Messenger, is also required to maintain or seek employment. He is reported to have a deal with Mark Gordon Company, the production company behind Ray Donovan, a series about a professional "fixer" for the rich and famous in LA who can make anyone's problems disappear except those created by his own family.
Prosecutors have yet to publicly detail Zuriff's involvement in the alleged crime syndicate said to have used a sophisticated scheme to launder tens of millions of dollars in gambling proceeds through bank accounts and shell companies in Eastern Europe.
Zuriff's attorneys have denied any wrongdoing.
The court has scheduled a firm trial date of June 9, 2014.
Lauryn Hill Sentenced to Three Months for Tax Evasion
The ruling came after the former Fugees singer told the court that her situation was akin to slavery.
Singer Lauryn Hill, 37, was sentenced on Monday to three months in federal prison plus another three months of house arrest for failing to pay taxes on an estimated $1 million in earnings.
The sentencing came after Hill delivered a strongly worded statement in court on Monday in Newark, N.J., the Associated Press reports, in which she explained that she had meant to one day pay the taxes, but was unable to after retreating from the recording industry for unspecified reasons.
"I needed to be able to earn so I could pay my taxes, without compromising the health and welfare of my children, and I was being denied that," Hill, a mother of six, told the judge.
"I was put into a system I didn't know the nature of," Hill continued, according to TMZ . "I'm a child of former slaves. I got into an economic paradigm and had that imposed on me. [...] I sold 50 million units. [...] Now I'm up here paying a tax debt. If that's not likened to slavery, I don't know what is."
Several weeks ago, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Moser claimed in court that Hill -- a former member of influential hip-hop group Fugees -- recently signed a deal with Sony Music which would pay her $1 million in exchange for five new songs. Hill countered that while a deal was in place, the figures were "inaccurate."
A Sony Music spokeswoman had no comment.
A thrilling ‘War Horse’ thunders into the Broward Center
The novel, movie and stage versions of War Horse are as different as apples and oranges and, oh, carrots.
Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel for young people is told from the point of view of Joey, a British farm lad’s beloved horse sent into battle in France during World War I. Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated 2011 film is a beautiful, harrowing and ultra-realistic treatment of Joey’s story. And the stage version, which came to life at London’s Royal National Theatre in 2007 and went on to win the best play Tony Award in 2011?
That War Horse is an example of theatrical craftsmanship and magic of the highest order.
War Horse, which begins a two-week run on Tuesday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, is an extraordinary piece of theater, in no small part because Joey and his rival-turned-friend Topthorn are portrayed by life-sized puppets. But before you cringe or think that the stage War Horse sounds like something for kids, think again. Chances are you’ve never seen a “puppet” as strikingly sculptural yet persuasively alive as the ones Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler created for War Horse.
In truth, if not for the South African pair and their Cape Town-based Handspring Puppet Company, the hugely successful stage version of War Horse and Spielberg’s subsequent movie might not exist at all.
Tom Morris, an associate director at the National, was looking for pieces to develop in 2004. He and executive director Nick Starr went to Cape Town to see a play featuring a life-sized giraffe puppet created by Handspring. On that flight, the director read a copy of Morpurgo’s novel (written 22 years earlier) because his mother had suggested it might be good material for a future project. Thus began a three-year developmental process, leading to a play that exceeded anyone’s expectations; as Starr said recently from London, “It’s impossible to think up a success like that.”
War Horse was put together at the National Theatre Studio, an arm of the government-subsidized theater and a place in which theater artists can experiment without the pressure of a looming opening night. In the first workshop at the start of 2005, Kohler and Jones worked with actors and simple puppets. As the project grew, Marianne Elliott joined Morris as co-director, playwright Nick Stafford was hired to adapt Morpurgo’s novel, and designer Rae Smith was tasked with developing the look of the show.
A key challenge for Stafford was the change in perspective from the novel to the stage.
“It was decided that the horse wouldn’t speak, so you have a shift in perspective from first to third person,” Stafford said by phone from London. “The horse became a character in the larger story. … He was de-anthropomorphized.”
Morpurgo was concerned at first when he heard that Joey and Topthorn would be portrayed by life-sized puppets operated by a trio of actors.
“I thought of the characters in pantomimes — a cloth horse,” the author said on a visit to Fort Lauderdale when the War Horse tour was announced. “I said no, no pantomime horse. Then I saw the giraffe Handspring made, and it brought tears to my eyes. Three people became one. They made this creature live.”
Starr describes the National’s War Horse as “a real act of collaborative storytelling. It’s a sophisticated version of folk art, the story of a boy who is on a quest.”
Performance artist Rudi Goblen is a master of re-invention
Most artists invent themselves in some way, but Rudi Goblen has invented himself much more than most, leaping into the unknown each time, nailing his landing with talent, hard work and faith in himself.
He taught himself to break-dance at 13 and co-founded Miami’s top hip-hop dance crew. He tagged along with a friend to an audition, and ended up hurling himself into performance art and dance theater. Born in Nicaragua and homeless for a time as a young boy, he dropped out of high school but has taught at top arts schools and written his own erudite solo theater pieces.
Goblen will premiere the third and most ambitious of those works, PET, next weekend at the Miami Light Project. The result of three years of interviews, PET is framed as a “support group for the broken-hearted and serial monogamists,” with Goblen leading the search for love.
All those experiences help to make Goblen one of the most compelling figures in Miami’s contemporary live-arts scene. And he sees no contradiction between his self-made street past and his avant-garde theatrical present.
“You just have to do it,” says Goblen, 31. “I am a B-boy [hip-hop dancer], a dance theater artist, a writer, an emcee, a music maker — I am all those things. It’s not like now you’re doing theater, and now you’re breaking. People say ‘Oh he used to be a B-boy and now he does theater.’ That’s like saying, ‘He used to be Nicaraguan and now he lives in Miami.’ All those things will always be inside me.
“What I love about theater is it’s open to everything. I can do all the things I want to do and know how to do, and learn all the things that catch my attention.”
Goblen’s hunger to learn and confidence in his considerable talents have attracted a crucial series of mentors and supporters.
“Right from the start he was always willing to do things he’s never done before,” says Michael Yawney, an FIU theater professor and playwright who is directing PET and who met Goblen in an experimental dance theater workshop a decade ago. “You have this intense intellectual insight, but he’s not stuck in the groove that some people get pushed into in higher education. He thinks outside the box because he’s never been in the box.”
Goblen was just 3 years old when he left war-torn Nicaragua for Los Angeles with his mother, 9-year-old brother, grandmother and uncle. Less than a year later, the uncle threw the rest of the family out of the apartment they shared. He soon took back Goblen’s brother and grandmother, but the little boy and his mother were homeless for months.
“I remember standing outside with the two boxes of clothes we had,” Goblen says. “We slept around, in shelters, in people’s houses.”
His mother sold clothes and other items until she and his grandmother had saved enough for a one-bedroom apartment, where the family took turns sleeping in the only bed. By the time Goblen was ready for middle school, they had moved cross-country to Sweetwater, where his mother still lives.
“I was really young, and I don’t remember a lot,” he says, downplaying those difficult years. “It’s just something that happened and made our skin tougher. Yeah, there was some struggling, but that’s the essence of life.”
Jennifer Lopez, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown Join Billboard Music Awards Lineup
The May 19 event will be hosted by Tracy Morgan and produced by Don Mischer.
There's nothing small about the Billboard Music Awards -- but it will have Lil Wayne. Weezy will join a number of new additions to the May 19 event, including label mate Nicki Minaj and stars including Jennifer Lopez, Chris Brown, Ed Sheeran, Akon, Ne-Yo, David Guetta and "I Love It" breakthrough act Icona Pop.
Wayne and Minaj will pair for a performance, while Ne-Yo and Akon will crash the turntables with Guetta.
The Las Vegas show will air on ABC at 8 ET, live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena. 30 Rock alum Tracy Morgan will host, with Don Mischer producing.
The star-studded show has previously announced performances from Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Miguel, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Christina Aguilera, Selena Gomez, the Band Perry, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kacey Musgraves and Prince, with the latter set to receive the Billboard Icon Award.
Bieber, Swift and Mars are also vying for the Milestone Award, presented by Chevrolet, which is a fan-driven honor that one voter will get to present at the show alongside Cee Lo Green.
Swift, fun. and Maroon 5 top the finalists at the 2013 awards, with each included in 11 categories. Rihanna competes in 10 categories, including Top Artist against Swift, Maroon 5, Bieber and One Direction, while a pair of younger artists -- Carly Rae Jepsen and 1D themselves -- are finalists in nine and eight categories, respectively.
Billboard Music Awards finalists were based on key fan interactions with music, including album and digital singles sales, radio airplay, touring, streaming and social interactions on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, VEVO, Spotify and other popular online destinations for music. These measurements were tracked year-round by Billboard and its data partners, including Nielsen Entertainment and Next Big Sound.
Stay tuned for more announcements on performers, presenters and more for the May 19 airing of the 2013 Billboard Music Awards on ABC.
'Two and a Half Men': Jon Cryer Gets a Raise, No raise for Ashton Kutcher
The Emmy-winning actor will earn about $620,000 per episode for the show's 11th season, while Kutcher stays the highest-paid sitcom actor on TV at $700,000 per show.
Loyalty and patience is paying off for Jon Cryer on Two and a Half Men. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the Emmy-winning actor, who often serves as the butt of jokes on the hit CBS sitcom, will make about $620,000 an episode (when including perks) to return for the show's 11th season. That's still not on par with Ashton Kutcher's $700,000 fee for each of Men's 22 episodes (translation: $15.4 million, which makes Kutcher the highest-paid sitcom actor on television). But unlike Cryer (UTA, Forward, Myman Greenspan), who is making less than $600,000 this season, Kutcher (CAA, Untitled, Sloane Offer) isn't getting a raise to return for his third year replacing original star Charlie Sheen, who was fired in 2011. Warner Bros., which produces the show, declined to comment.
CBS announced April 26 that the long-running sitcom has been renewed for another season but without series regular Angus T. Jones, who is in negotiations to recur only sporadically. Jones, 19, angered CBS and series co-creator Chuck Lorre in November by calling the show "filth" and begging viewers not to watch it in a widely circulated online interview with his church leader. The actor, who is making more than $300,000 an episode this season and has been with Men since its launch in 2003, has been seen on the show infrequently via Skype after his character joined the Army.
Two and a Half Men is no longer the ratings juggernaut it once was in its Sheen-led heyday. But because CBS moved Men from its decadelong Monday home to Thursdays after megahit The Big Bang Theory, the strong lead-in has helped it to perform solidly, if not spectacularly. Its April 25 episode hit a series-low 2.8 rating in the 18-to-49 demo, but it beat an American Idol results show. Men trails only Big Bang and Modern Family in the key demo for the season, making it a priority for CBS.
With Jones reducing his presence, Men producers are said to be seeking a strong female to join the cast next season. Miley Cyrus, who has guest-starred on the show, was an early contender, though her touring schedule and salary requirement are said to have killed interest. With talent fees so high, CBS, which funds nearly all production costs on the Warner Bros. show, is believed to be looking to trim expenses elsewhere to keep the show on the air.
Donald Faison’s job on ‘Who Gets the Last Laugh?’ is a joke
Donald Faison lives in a constant state of fear.
The former Scrubs star and host of the TBS hidden-camera comedy, Who Gets the Last Laugh?, worries that’s he about to get pranked.
“I will leave in the morning and my wife [ CaCee Cobb] will ask me what I’m going to do and I’ll say that I will probably get punk’d,” Faison tells the Fresno Bee. “I try to stay on the alert at all times.”
His punk’d paranoia started in 2005 when Faison produced the episode of MTV’s Punk’d in which his Scrubs co-star Zach Braff was made to believe kids had painted graffiti on his new car. Braff’s explosion on camera was classic.
Each Tuesday night on Who Gets the Last Laugh, three comedians create elaborate practical jokes. The audience votes on which one is the funniest and that celebrity ( Andy Dick, Tom Green, Nicole Sullivan, Chris Kattan, Bam Margera, to name a few) wins money for his/her charity.
Faison’s fear of being caught on camera isn’t totally based on the hidden-camera shows. Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence was a big practical joker and targeted Faison.
“He put a license plate on my car that said ‘TV DOC.’ Luckily, I saw it when I walked out to get into my car. Then he did it to Zach, who drove around with the fake license plate for a week,” Faison says.
The hosting job goes along with Faison’s continued work in movies and on his TV Land series The Exes. Production on the third season of the comedy about three divorced men living together recently started.
Faison, 38, was 18 when he landed a small role in the film Juice. He bounced around until 1995, when he was cast in the film Clueless and the subsequent TV version. Since then, he’s been a busy actor and was able to fit the hidden-camera show into his schedule because it’s a hosting job, which is not as time consuming.
Faison finds the work funny and has to be there for the comedians who don’t have a great outcome.
“Some people get angry when they don’t win,” he says.
And that’s no joke.
'Iron Man 3': The Third Most Pirated Film Last Week
A week before its premiere in US movie theaters, a camcorded version of the blockbuster appears online.
Iron Man 3 ruled the overseas box office with a $195.3 million take from 42 markets, but the film was only the third most pirated film last week.\
The blockbuster film has yet to debut domestically, which might be reason to suspect that it would be a hot item online, but it was downloaded fewer times on torrent sites than Jack Reacher and The Last Stand, according to data collected by TorrentFreak.
The third position on the week's most pirated films puts it right in line with how The Avengers performed almost exactly one year ago. That superhero movie also opened as the third most pirated film, going onto become the fourth most pirated film of 2012, behind Project X, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Dark Knight Rises. The Avengers was also the top grossing film last year.
The leaked copy of Iron Man 3 appears to be a camcorded version, known for being of inferior quality to alternatives in piracy circles.
Despite being available on torrent sites for only a few days, the film starring Robert Downey Jr. still was more downloaded than The Host, Gangster Squad and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, among the other notable films on last week's 10 most pirated films. Jack Reacher held its position as the most pirated film for the second consecutive week, ahead of its domestic home entertainment release date on May 7.
In 2012, home entertainment sales -- including DVDs, Blu-Rays and digital sales -- was up slightly, reversing a seven-year downward trend but still off nearly 20 percent from the peak in 2004.
Peck’s piece for MCB duo a vivid part of New World’s ‘New Work’ program
The pas de deux Justin Peck created for Miami City Ballet was just one element of the New World Symphony’s “New Work” evening, but Chutes and Ladders, vibrantly performed by Jeanette Delgado and Kleber Rebello, made a vivid impression even amid the rich array at New World Center Saturday.
Lit up by spontaneous energy derived from the music, the first movement from Benjamin Britten’s String Quartet No. 1, this densely constructed dance was a strikingly fresh take on a traditional form.
Peck, 25, a soloist and choreographer-in-residence at New York City Ballet, said he was responding to the unpredictable, episodic quality of Britten’s music, which he compared to the way thoughts flit through our minds. But because it is a man and woman dancing in quick-changing response to each other, Chutes also seems to show a narrative of their relationship. In their urgently alive performance, Delgado and Rebello made it seem a genuine physical expression of their own impulses and emotions.
Part of the here-and-now sense of Chutes also came from Peck’s response to the in-the-round nature of the center’s concert hall. Ballet is almost always presented on a proscenium stage, the dancers facing front and moving to unseen musicians. But Peck sets Delgado and Rebello into a rotating gyroscope of a dance at the center of the audience.
The musicians – violinists Vivek Jayaraman and Alexander Chaleff, violist Anthony Parce and cellist Aaron Ludwig – were on a slightly raised platform, a visible part of the action whether the dancers stopped to focus on them or whirled in response to them. The connection between dancers and musicians was taut and alive. In a way, it was like watching a superbly accomplished couple dancing to a band at the center of a club dance floor.
Peck’s movement is by turns urgent and lyrical, formal and odd. Delgado and Kleber whirl in tandem, now with spiraling limbs, now in sharply explosive jumps. They do oddly sharp, mechanical movements that pop out like sudden flashes of thought, as when they look quickly from side to side, as if something caught their eye. But a moment where they stand staring at each other, as if caught in each other’s gaze, seems just as spontaneous.
There is humor too – Kleber leans on Delgado’s shoulder, carries her tilting sideways, legs beating. At the end she moves away from him, and the look on her face is suddenly anguished – but he brings her back to him and the quartet, all of them united by the music.
Reese Witherspoon, Jim Toth Arrested in Atlanta
Rush Jams Into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
It's hard to believe, but the squeaky-clean star was booked for disorderly conduct on Friday morning after police stopped her husband, CAA agent Jim Toth (mugshot below) on suspicion of DUI in Atlanta, The Hollywood Reporter confirms.
Toth, who was driving erratically and whose blood alcohol level was reported to be .139, was charged with DUI and not staying in the lane.
According to TMZ, Witherspoon was also taken into custody after allegedly becoming upset and getting out of the car twice. She reportedly said "Do you know my name?" and when the police officer said no, she answered: "You're about to find out who I am. ... You are going to be on national news."
The couple, who married in March 2011 and welcomed a son last September, were released from jail shortly after the arrests. An appearance at Atlanta Municipal Court is reportedly slated for Monday morning.
Atlanta's Department of Corrections released their mug shots to THR on Sunday; Witherspoon, her trademark blonde hair dyed brown, looks downward while Toth also avoids direct eye contact with the camera.
Witherspoon's rep did not respond to THR's request for comment. CAA had no comment.
Witherspoon, 37, has been in Atlanta to film The Good Lie, about an American woman who takes in a Sudanese refugee. On Sunday night, she posed for photos but bypassed reporters on the red carpet in New York City for a screening of her latest film Mud, co-starring Matthew McConaughey. The event, held at the Museum of Modern Art, drew McConaughey as well as director Jeff Nichols, who both made the rounds speaking to journalists.
This is a rare public misstep for the Oscar-winning actress, who has long upheld a conservative and wholesome image as well as the mantle of America's Sweetheart along with A-listers such as Sandra Bullock.While accepting the "Generation" Award at the 2011 MTV Movie Awards, Witherspoon addressed the growing frequency of celebrity reality shows (and nude photo leaks), telling the crowd: "I get it, girls, that it's cool to be a bad girl. But it is possible to make it in Hollywood without doing a reality show. When I came up in this business, if you made a sex tape, you were embarrassed and you hid it under your bed. And if you took naked pictures of yourself on your cell phone, you hide your face, people!"
Rush fans can relax. The band is now officially in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Canadian rockers were welcomed into the musical fraternity at Thursday's 28th annual induction ceremony by the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins. At the beginning of the Nokia Theatre event, the audience was already administering a standing ovation to the group.
"We've been saying for a long time that this wasn't a big deal," drummer-lyricist Neil Peart told the crowd, most of whom came out to specifically support the band. "It turns out, it kind of is."
Rush gained entry following its first appearance on the ballot after repeatedly being left off the list since gaining eligibility in 1998, to the great consternation of the legion of Rush fans who cried bias against progressive rock. The long wait didn't seem to matter at Thursday's star-studded concert event, which ran over five hours. Peart, lead singer Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson made up for lost time by launching into a rambunctious rendition of "Tom Sawyer" in front of the more than 7,000 attendees.
Rush was among this year's eight eclectic inductees, which also included fellow classic rockers Heart, singer-songwriter Randy Newman, rap group Public Enemy, disco queen Donna Summer, bluesman Albert King, and producers Quincy Jones and Lou Adler.
For Heart, entering the hall of fame isn't just about music.
"Our long and winding road has always been about the magical power of love and the enduring strength of family," said Nancy Wilson. "We came from an era when women normally did not rock and women were not expected to be leaders."
Wilson, her sister, Nancy, and their band mates celebrated their induction with lively performances of "Crazy for You," ''Dreamboat Annie" and "Barracuda."
Adler was inducted by comedy duo Richard "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong before being serenaded by Carole King with "So Far Away." Jack Nicholson was among Adler's fans in the audience who lavished the producer-mogul a standing ovation.
With his guitar around his neck, John Mayer inducted the late King before joining Gary Clark Jr. for King-tinged jam session.
"Albert King is why guitar-face was invented," joked Mayer.
Newman — joined by Jackson Browne, John Fogerty and Tom Petty — kicked off the Los Angeles ceremony with a performance of his classic "I Love L.A." It was an appropriate song choice given the fact this year's event marks the first time since 1993 that the Cleveland institution has held its induction ceremony on the West Coast. Backstage, Newman was matter-of-fact about his inclusion.
"I didn't think it would happen until I died or something," he said.
Oprah Winfrey was on hand to welcome Jones into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Usher lauded the producer-mogul with a rendition of the Michael Jackson tune "Rock with You."
Jennifer Hudson paid tribute to Summer with a medley of her hits, much to the chagrin of Flava Flav. The Public Enemy rapper, clad in an all-white tux, was the only person in the crowd who remained on his feet throughout her performance. He later commanded the microphone for a long-winded acceptance speech when Public Enemy was recognized. His colleague, Chuck D, was more succinct in his remarks.
"Let us all not forget, we all come from the damn blues," he told detractors.
Thursday's event concluded with all-star jam session featuring Rush, Heart, Chuck D, Grohl, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello and others riffing together on stage.
The induction ceremony will be broadcast May 18 on HBO.
'Today Show' Drama: 5 Buzzy Revelations About Ann Curry's Messy Exit
New report reveals new details on a cutthroat (and ultimately doomed) plot to oust the co-anchor dubbed "Operation Bambi."
As the NBC morning show struggles to reclaim its No. 1 status from ABC rival Good Morning America, a dishy new report by Brian Stelter in The New York Times Magazine (an excerpt of his forthcoming book, Top of the Morning) has exposed more details on Ann Curry's messy departure, which ultimately caused a loss of ratings and ad revenue at Today and tarnished the reputation of once-popular co-host Matt Lauer.
Reached by THR, a Today spokesperson said: "We are focused on covering several major news stories this week and producing the best show we can for our viewers, not on year-old gossip."
Here are the five most eye-catching revelations from the story:
1. Former executive producer Jim Bell allegedly dubbed the plot to oust Curry "Operation Bambi." Dead-set on pushing out Curry and replacing her with Savannah Guthrie, Bell executed a plan that gained momentum when Lauer signed a lucrative new contract. He took Curry to lunch at a fancy French restaurant, ordered multiple bottles of wine and tried to sell Curry on the idea of transitioning into a "global anchor" role that would allow her to focus more on the serious news she wanted to see more of on Today. Just when Curry was beginning to accept Bell's pitch, the New York Times reported the strategy to remove Curry ahead of July's Olympic Games, which were broadcast on NBC. Crushed, Curry "basically shut down," Stelter writes. After her tearful on-camera goodbye on June 28 of last year, Bell and other high-level Today producers toasted the success of Operation Bambi. (Bell denies using the code name, as well as many of the dishier details in the piece.)
2. Katie Couric considered Curry to be "fake." Known for her ambition, Curry would lobby to sub in for Couric when she was away. According to Stelter, "Couric didn't appreciate Curry¹s eagerness. Producers said Couric thought Curry was melodramatic and, in a word that one used, 'fake.'" (In a recent cover story on Today's decline, New York magazine reported that Couric used to tease Curry about her clothes, remarks that didn't go over well with the sensitive newsreader.)
3. Many execs inside NBC News never thought Curry had the personality for the co-host gig. Noticing a lack of rapport between Lauer and Curry when Curry would fill in for Couric, Neal Shapiro -- then president of NBC News -- attempted to thwart a potential co-anchor promotion by crowning Curry host of Dateline NBC. He hoped to make room for possible Couric successors such as Hoda Kotb and Natalie Morales. "I don't think anybody back then thought Ann was right," Tom Touchet, formerly executive producer of Today, calling Curry a "wacky chick" with a "great heart."
4. The names of outside-the-network talent Bell pursued. When Meredith Vieira was preparing an early Today exit in 2011, Bell met with Fox News' Megyn Kelly and also expressed interest in GMA's Robin Roberts, Stelter reports. Meanwhile, ex-NBC News boss Steve Capus -- who has had a contentious relationship with Bell -- was pushing for Curry to replace Vieria. Bell gave in, having no "better option," an insider told Stelter.
5. Curry's reaction after signing off: "It feels like I died, and I've seen my own wake." That's what she reportedly told colleagues amid a media frenzy -- and outpouring of support -- over her ouster. So far, she hasn't gone public with her side of the story. Her silence might have something to do with her new NBC contract worth a reported $5 million-plus per year. In Stelter's view, it was "partly granted, no doubt to guard against the impression that she was fired and to encourage her to keep any hurt feelings to herself and not share them with any of the publishers lining up for a tell-all book."
Miss Cougarlife on the prowl in Miami
Marlo Jordan, the new spokes-Cougar for Cougarlife.com, a site that links up mature ladies with younger men, dishes on why Miami is a prime spot to hunt for cubs.
Cubs of Miami Beach be on alert! Cougarlife.com's new spokes-Cougar Marlo Jordan has chosen Miami Beach as the perfect place to celebrate her upcoming 42nd birthday. The fitness competitor and dating coach was chosen by a popular vote that included 6,000 cougar contestants and now she reigns as the face of a website that has made millions of love connections between mature ladies and the young men who fawn over them. Well, perhaps love isn't the right word to describe this kind of connection. We caught up with the new Miss Cougarlife to chat about the life and loves of a self-described Cougar.
How did you become Miss Cougarlife?
There were actually 6,000 cougars who entered the contest and I basically entered and thought it was funny and then I forgot about it. The next thing I knew I had won.
What got you to join a website like Cougarlife.com?
I heard about the website from a girlfriend. With my schedule being so busy I thought this would be perfect. It’s just an easy way to date.
What is it about younger guys that attracts you?
The younger guys are in their sexual prime so you get a guy in his mid twenties to early thirties, and I’m in my early forties so I'm in my sexual prime. You put two people together who are in their sexual prime, they are not into a relationship right now and the dynamics of the two works well. I don’t want them to marry me and have kids with me. Maybe they want to fulfill fantasies.
How many guys have you met on the site?
I interact with a lot of guys on the site. But I have met about five guys that I have had an ongoing relationship with. Cougarlife has made over 9 million connections, those are some big numbers. There’s about four guys to every girl. Your chances are really great.
Do you think its easier for older women to snag younger guys now because women take better care of themselves?
If you think back in the '60s in the Ms. Robinson days, you think of the cougar as an old lady who wants to tear a man apart. In Hollywood you have actresses like Demi Moore, Mariah Carey, Sharon Stone - these women have changed the stigma about women dating younger men. I think the cougar lifestyle is here to stay. Madonna is a full on cougar and look at her.
I’ve always gone to the gym. But I’ve been divorced for five years. When I started dating I stayed in the gym more and I am more conscious of my diet. I think that women who are single who are in their thirties and forties are likely to take better care of themselves now.
Any drawbacks to dating cubs?
I did date a guy for a few months who started talking about children. That is one of the cons, no matter who you are dating, no matter what age, feelings get involved. If you two start having stronger feelings for each other a negative about a young guy is that he starts falling in love with you and wants to have a family. I’m not having anymore kids. I would say that another guy was very cocky, the younger guys get nervous and intimidated by older women. I would say to cubs, don’t be intimidated. Be yourself. Keep in mind the older woman talking to you wants to have sex with you, be confident but don’t be cocky.
Have you seen cubs that are looking for a Sugar Mama?
I know there are younger guys that are looking to date older women that are financially stable. But I think there is a percentage of them that are looking at it like that. She can take me out. She can help me with my bills. There’s guys like that for sure, but number one is sex.
Where are the best places in Miami to pick up cubs?
Rose Bar at Delano is great, SLS next door has lots of younger crowds. FIFTY Lounge, Sky Bar at Shore Club, Casa Tua and LIV. The nightlife in Miami is amazing and a lot of cougars go to Miami to celebrate birthdays like what I’m going to do.
What made you want to party for your birthday in Miami?
Miami is one of the top places to let loose. There’s going to be plenty of cubs so it's the perfect place to go celebrate.
Slow Burn Theatre does well by ‘Sweeney Todd’
Since its birth with Bat Boy in 2010, Slow Burn Theatre has been quick to embrace some of musical theater’s most challenging works. Its second show, for instance, was Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, and in 2012 the company returned to Sondheim’s influential body of work for a production of Into the Woods. But those two were mere warm-ups for Slow Burn’s new production of Sweeney Todd.
Created in 1979 by Sondheim and playwright Hugh Wheeler, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is an immensely challenging work that has as much in common with opera as it does with musical theater. The Tony Award-winning piece has been given a John Doyle-directed Broadway revival in which the actors and the “orchestra” were one and the same. It has been produced all over the world, by major theater companies, opera companies and in concert versions. Tim Burton made a 2007 Sweeney Todd movie starring his male muse, Johnny Depp, and Burton’s wife Helena Bonham Carter.
One could be forgiven for wondering just how well the young Slow Burn, with its short rehearsal period, limited budget and non-union cast, would pull off a work as complex as Sweeney Todd. The short answer: surprisingly well.
Director-choreographer Patrick Fitzwater has a key asset in his fellow Slow Burn founder and co-artistic director, Matthew Korinko. A strong actor with a supple baritone voice, Korinko often plays leads in Slow Burn shows, but that’s not favoritism at work — it’s talent. More than once, Korinko has been the standard-setter in Slow Burn productions, and so it is with Sweeney Todd.
The actor plays the mad, tragic, vengeful barber with a mixture of fury and, when needed, a forced charm to disarm his soon-to-be victims. The way he lays out the reason for his character’s descent into madness, singing The Barber and His Wife, is haunting. His Pretty Women duet with Shawn Wayne King’s Judge Turpin, the architect of barber Benjamin Barker’s downfall (“Sweeney Todd” is a pseudonym), is one of the vocal high points of the show.
As Sweeney’s landlady, cohort and would-be Mrs., Karen Chandler doesn’t rise to Korinko’s level. She gets the crazy-funny part — after all, it’s Mrs. Lovett who dreams up the utilitarian idea of using Sweeney’s victims as filling for her substandard meat pies — but her voice is somewhat strident, except when she’s crooning Not While I’m Around to her slow but dangerous young helper Tobias (Bruno Vida).
Christian Vandepas and Kaela Antolino play returning sailor Anthony and Judge Turpin’s ward Johanna, who also happens to be the daughter Sweeney left behind when the corrupt judge shipped him off to Australia so that the jurist could have his way with the barber’s beautiful young wife Lucy. Vandepas has trouble with that difficult vocal leap at the beginning of Johanna, but he plays the smitten suitor well, and Antolino is a persuasive damsel in distress.
Ann Marie Olson as the mysterious, crazy Beggar Woman greatly enriches the show’s vocal palette. Sean Dorazio as Judge Turpin’s equally corrupt Beadle, Rick Peña as Sweeney’s rival Pirelli, the steampunk-style ensemble — Kaitlyn O’Neill, Courtney Poston, Daniella Newton, Rick Hvizdak, Christopher Mitchell and Michael Smith — and the principal actors make the opening and closing Ballad of Sweeney Todd a thunderous, chilling summation of the doom we witness.
Though Ian T.Ameida’s set is more utiliarian than inspired (it does have the requisite modified barber chair and body disposal chute), Peña’s steampunk costumes suggest the show’s 19th century setting. Lance Blank’s lighting, blood-red when the moment calls for that, is effective, as is Traci Almeida’s sound design (though softening Chandler wouldn’t hurt). Musical director Manny Schvartzman leads a six-piece band that does as well with Sondheim’s devilishly difficult score as Korinko does. All told, Sweeney Todd, which runs just one more weekend, is another impressive effort from Slow Burn.
Festivals thriving as 2013 season starts
Coachella and Lollapalooza are sold out. Bonnaroo’s nearly there, too. But eager fans need only be patient: Wait a few years and chances are you’ll have a star-studded music festival of your own within driving distance.
New music festivals are popping up more quickly than you can count in the United States. As the summer festival season gets under way this week with the sprawling Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival down in the desert in Indio, Calif., some of the most successful promoters in the scene are looking ahead to next year and beyond when they’ll launch new ventures in untapped markets.
“I do think that there’s really plenty of opportunities for people to create some great festival experiences,” said Ashley Capps, a co-founder of the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. “In fact, I think in many ways the audience in America is just now starting to fully embrace festival culture.”
After a disastrous run when festivals disappeared more quickly than the family farm in the late 1990s, a small group of concert promoters established beachheads — the four mega giants Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza in Chicago and Austin City Limits Festival in Texas. Each of those has survived a decade or more and continues to gain in popularity.
In the last five years, several others have taken root like the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago; the Hangout Music Festival on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala;, Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival in San Francisco; Governors Ball Music Festival in New York; Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Festival (formerly Moog Fest) in Asheville, N.C., and Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky. Even more are being started by artists themselves, Metallica and Wilco among them.
That abundance comes with its own problem: As more festivals debut worldwide, the competition for top headliners becomes more intense.
As does the scrutiny. Put McCartney, Mumford & Sons and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers at the top of your bill, like Bonnaroo, and you’ll get few complaints.
Throw The Stone Roses up there, as Coachella did, and there’s going to be some yammering, as festival producers found this year. Many fans asked, “Who?” when the British rock band appeared atop the festival’s lineup and speculated the `90s holdovers might hurt attendance.
Yet the complaints had no effect on ticket sales. Coachella, which recently expanded to two weekends, sold out both. Lollapalooza, with headlining ‘80s band The Cure, sold out in a record four hours.
“There’s always going to be complaints about every lineup. You have to look at tickets sales,” said Charles Attal, whose C3 Presents produces Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits Festival. “If they’re selling out in an hour, it’s the fan experience. I don’t think it’s about one band.”
Tribeca: Broadway and '30 Rock' Legend Elaine Stritch's Career Grand Finale
The 88-year old looks back on her long career, and talks about dressing down a famed critic who was drunk in the audience just the night before.
Right smack in the middle of our interview, a woman in her seventies walks up toElaine Stritch and asks if she can shake her hand.
"I loved you in 'Ladies Who Lunch!'" the woman tells Stritch, who acts flattered and thanks her profusely."Of course you can!" the energetic Broadway legend replies, lifting a hand off her cane and extending it out to the delighted fan.
The conversation ends there, and the woman walks through the gallery and toward the lobby of the Carlyle Hotel. Stritch, now 88-years old and still the firecracker of charm and irascibility whose name has been featured on marquees for over half a century, has lived in this Upper East Side hotel for nearly 15 years; she’s become more or less the unofficial mayor of the joint. It is a vestige of the old New York that she once held in the palm of her hand, jazz playing while towers of pastries are shuffled from table to table in the early stretches of happy hour.
"I like all these people," she jokes of the hotel’s patrons. "They all have money!"
The tributes from fawning fans have been pouring in since Stritch announced that she was going into what she calls "semi-retirement," a relative term for someone whose life is a performance in and of itself. Her non-stop energy is on full display in a new documentary, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, which is set to debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, and the reason she’s entertaining questions in what amounts to her extended living room.
The admirers at the Carlyle have been rushing to get the kudos in, as Stritch is moving back to her childhood home of Michigan, where she’s secured a suburban three bedroom condo back in the cradle of her youth. And yet she’s certainly not easing into the break; Stritch has been performing a club act on the Carlyle stage at nights, an unrehearsed charm offensive where "I just look at the whole wide world and say, 'F--- it. I'm going to go downstairs and go out on the little cafe stage there and do my show... whatever show I've got.'"
Born in Detroit in 1925, when the auto industry was just beginning to boom and make that city a shimmering symbol of America’s rise, the daughter of Irish and Welsh immigrants was not long for the Motor City. She was in New York by the time she was 18 years old, starring on Broadway by 21. In the 1950's, Stritch became a staple on the Great White Way, her throaty and unmistakable voice a stand out in everything from Stephen Sondheim musicals to serious dramas. Roles in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Bus Stop and an iconic turn in Company sealed her fame.
"I had no problem doing that, I owned the stage," she says frankly, sipping coffee. "I’m very, very, very successful on the stage. So [performing] doesn’t scare me at all. It did at first, and I could put my feet up and talk to you for hours about that -- but I’m not going to."
She remains feisty to the last performance, too, delighting crowds that have included Tony Bennett, Tom Hanks, Liza Minelli and many other stars. The night before, she dressed down a man in the crowd for talking while she was singing a number.
"He was heckling, he was a little loaded. And I told him off," she beams. "I didn’t know who it was, but I said, 'You're going to keep quiet, I'm going to talk or you’re going to talk. I'm willing to understand, I’ll listen.' I gave him every opportunity. And then it turned out to be Michael Riedel, who is one of my good friends, but he was drunk."
And did it hurt that she had publicly called out the famed -- and feared -- New York Post theater critic? Of course not.
"He came up to my suite [after the show] and he had a drink," Stritch says, adding with an eye roll, "which he needed like a hole in the head."
She leaves no room to argue, dropping declarations with the same certitude and force that made has made her a show-stopper for six decades. But she’s not all elan confidence; despite a long and rich film career, which included roles with Woody Allen and Ellen Burstyn, Stritch didn’t consider herself a movie star, and is disarmingly honest as to why she thinks she "never clicked" on screen.
"I’m not good looking enough," she bluntly explains. "Absolutely true. You have to be very, very good looking to get ahead in motion pictures."
That is prime material for a debate, but what’s undeniable is the magnetism she presents in the documentary.
Filmmaker Chiemi Karasawa followed Stritch around for two years after it was suggested by their mutual hairdresser, of all people, that the then-85-year old dynamo had a story worth exploring. The resultant movie tails Stritch through her day-to-day life, encompassing her preparations for a one woman show on Broadway, filming scenes for 30 Rock (she won an Emmy for playing Alec Baldwin’s tough old broad of a mother) and reminiscing about old glories. Included are archival footage of breakdowns during recording sessions, plenty of heated moments with Sondheim and discussion about the time she went on a date with JFK (they had different ideas for a nightcap).
Karasawa also offers up snippets from several interviews with some of Stritch’s closest friends and co-stars, from Baldwin (who recently signed on as one of the film’s producers, and is the first person Stritch mentions when asked about her favorite co-stars), James Gandolfini ("God, I just love Gandolfini," she gushes) and Tina Fey. They all offer the same basic distillation of a highly complicated character: she can be a pain in the ass to work with, but it’s always worth it.
Stritch insists she was "thrilled to death," with what her friends said. "I like being talked about. I think some people really don't... because they’re secure enough and they don’t need that."
She continues, offering some sober self-analysis that could easily be mistaken as one of her famed comedic monologues.
"Why did I choose the career that I chose?" she asks rhetorically. "I want to be talked about. I want to be written about. I want everything about me! And I don’t make any bones about that. I like it being all about me. And it’s not funny!"
Stritch is now in a zone, summoning that powerful voice once again. "I know sometimes I argue and people laugh. I’m not being funny. I’m being absolutely serious. I’m speaking seriously. I liked being talked about; when I leave the room, I want people to talk about me. I don’t mind gossip; have a ball!"
There is a natural feel to the documentary, even if she never really forgot the cameras were rolling. She at one point demands Karasawa get video of her opening a box of English muffins -- her late husband, John Bey, was an English food magnate -- and not only does footage of her stabbing open the plastic wrap on the packaging make it into the film, her requests do as well. Every moment is engaging, bouncing between her frenetic energy and witty (often profane) one-liners, to more serious glimpses at how age and infirmity play no favorites based on fame and fortune.
Most stark are her lapses into diabetic emergencies and trips to the hospital, along with honest discussion about her long back-and-forth battle with the bottle. None of those things phase Stritch.
"I've looked my worst, I’ve seen myself photographed badly, goodly, whatever," she says, waving her hand, dismissing any last strands of vanity. "I’m not afraid of anything like that anymore. That’s dumb, to be afraid of that. 'Ohh, no makeup! Wait, my hair!' Please. You know what I mean? I'm not scared of that anymore in life."
For all the bravado and will to live large, there is a certain sense of concession lurking beneath the surface.
"I'm tired, and it’s the first time I’ve admitted it," she says matter-of-factly.
The move to Michigan will do her well; she’ll have more space, a quieter life and no pressure to get on stage. And yet it’s hard to imagine Stritch fully walking away from the spotlight; she refers to audiences as “my friends” and has always got a lot to say. The curtain may be dropping, but Elaine Stritch will never really stop performing.
Jay-Z posts pop-up rap about Cuba trip
Just days after his trip to Cuba with wife Beyoncé, rapper Jay-Z released Open Letter, a song about the controversy surrounding the trip.
Among the lyrics: “Politicians never did s--- for me ... except lie to me, distort history.”
“Obama said chill, ‘You gonna get me impeached,’ ... We don’t need this s--- anyway, chill with me on the beach.
“I’m in Cuba. I love Cubans. This Communist talk is so confusing. When it’s from China, the very mic that I’m using."
The power couple created a buzz recently after spending several days in Havana touring the streets and also watching young artists perform. Travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens who don’t have relatives on the island is prohibited without special licenses or as part of a policy that allows cultural and people-to-people exchanges. As it turns out, the Office of Assets Control, which issues travel licenses, said that the couple did not violate travel restrictions.
The track, developed on the spur of the moment in response to the flak over the trip, was posted early Thursday on Jay-Z’s Life + Times site.
After inquiries from Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, Treasury officials said the couple were granted an educational exchange license to travel. In the song, the lyrics include "boy from the hood, I got White House clearance."
That claim was disputed Thursday by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who said, "I guess nothing rhymes with Treasury," — insisting it was the U.S. Treasury Department , not the White House, that OK’d the trip to the island.
Carney said Obama never talked about the Cuba trip to Jay-Z: "Treasury offers and gives licenses for travel, as you know and the White House has nothing to do with it," Carney said. "I am absolutely saying the White House, from the president on down, had nothing to do with anybody’s personal — anybody’s travel to Cuba. That is something that Treasury handles."
Pressed on why Jay-Z had mentioned Obama, Carney quipped "Treasury, these are tough words to rhyme.
"It’s a song," he said. "The president did not communicate with Jay-Z over this trip."
Jamie Foxx To Be Honored at MTV Movie Awards
Snubbed at this year's Oscars for hisDjango Unchained role, Jamie Foxx is getting some recognition from the MTV Movie Awards.The actor, who won an Academy Award for 2004's Ray, will be honored with the "MTV Generation Award" at Sunday's event, which serves as an unofficial kickoff for summer blockbuster season. The honors acknowledge an actor who captivates the network's audience; past recipients include Reese Witherspoon,Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise andSandra Bullock.Fox is also nominated for four MTV Movie popcorn statuettes for Best Male Performance, Best Fight, Best Kiss and Best WTF Moment inQuentin Tarantino's Django Unchained."As a comedian, Academy award-winning actor and Grammy award-winning artist, Jamie Foxx is a triple threat superstar unlike any we’ve seen in a long time," said MTV PresidentStephen Friedman in a statement. "Jamie has captivated audiences for nearly two decades with a dizzying array of memorable performances, and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate him at this year’s Movie Awards."Foxx will next be seen on the big screen opposite Channing Tatum in the action thriller White House Down, which hits theaters June 28.Rebel Wilson is host of the ceremony, which which will air live on the East Coast at 9 p.m. on Sunday via MTV. The broadcast will be tape-delayed for the West Coast.
Annette Funicello, Beloved Mouseketeer and a Star of Beach Movies Dies at 70;
Annette Funicello, who won America’s heart as a 12-year-old in Mickey Mouse ears, captivated adolescent baby boomers in slightly spicy beach movies and later championed people with multiple sclerosis, a disease she had for more than 25 years, died on Monday in Bakersfield, Calif. She was 70.
Her death, from complications of the disease, was announced on the Disney Web site.
As an adult Ms. Funicello described herself as “the queen of teen,” and millions around her age agreed. Young audiences appreciated her sweet, forthright appeal, and parents saw her as the perfect daughter.
She was the last of the 24 original Mouseketeers chosen for “The Mickey Mouse Club,” the immensely popular children’s television show that began in 1955, when fewer than two-thirds of households had television sets. Walt Disney personally discovered her at a ballet performance.
Before long, she was getting more than 6,000 fan letters a week, and was known by just her first name in a manner that later defined celebrities like Cher, Madonna and Prince.
Sometimes called “America’s girl next door,” she nonetheless managed to be at the center of the action during rock ’n’ roll’s exuberant emergence. She was the youngest member of Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars tour, which included LaVern Baker, the Drifters, Bobby Rydell, the Coasters and Paul Anka. Mr. Anka, her boyfriend, wrote “Puppy Love” for her in her parents’ living room.
As a Mouseketeer, she received a steady stream of wristwatches, school rings and even engagement rings from young men, all of which she returned. She wrote in her 1994 autobiography, “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” that irate mothers often wrote back to say “how hard Johnny or Tommy had worked to save the money for the gift and how dare I return it?”
She said that if she had charm (she undeniably had modesty), it was partly a result of her shyness. Mr. Disney begged her to call him Uncle Walt, but she could manage only “Mr. Disney.” (She could handle “Uncle Makeup” and “Aunt Hairdresser.”)
At the height of her stardom, she said her ambition was to quit show business and have nine children.
With minor exceptions, like her commercials for Skippy peanut butter, Ms. Funicello did become a homemaker after marrying at 22. One reason, she said, was her reluctance to take parts at odds with her squeaky-clean image. She had three children.
Her cheerfulness was legendary. Her response to learning she had multiple sclerosis, a chronic disease of the central nervous system, was to start a charity to find a cure.
There was no irony, only warm good feeling, in her oft-repeated remark about the world’s pre-eminent rodent: “Mickey is more than a mouse to me. I am honored to call him a friend.”
Annette Joanne Funicello was born on Oct. 22, 1942, in Utica, N.Y., and as the first grandchild on either side of the family was indulged to the point of being, in her own words, a “spoiled brat.” At age 2, she learned the words to every song on the hit parade, her favorite being “Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive.”
In 1946, her parents decided to move to Southern California in the hope of doing better economically. They lived in a trailer park until her father, a mechanic, found work. They settled in Studio City and later moved to Encino.
Annette took dancing lessons, learned to play drums and, at 9, was named Miss Willow Lake at a poolside beauty contest. She did some modeling. Mr. Disney, who wanted amateurs and not professional child actors, discovered her when she danced in “Swan Lake” at a local recital.
“The Mickey Mouse Club” was instantly popular, generating orders for 24,000 mouse-eared beanies a day. Annette quickly became the most popular Mouseketeer, and Disney marketed everything from Annette lunchboxes and dolls to mystery novels about her fictionalized adventures.
But she did not receive special treatment. When she lost a pair of felt mouse ears, she was charged $55. It was deducted from her $185 weekly paycheck.
She once decided she wanted to change her last name to something more typically American. She chose Turner. But Mr. Disney, whom
she considered a second father, convinced her that her own name would be more memorable once people learned it
.In 1958, as “The Mickey Mouse Club” was ending its run, Mr. Disney summoned Ms. Funicello to his office. She feared she was going to be fired for growing too tall, but instead he offered her a studio contract — the only one given to a Mouseketeer.
Ex-News Corp. President Peter Chernin Bids $500 Million for Hulu (Report)
The streaming video service is a joint venture between Disney and News Corp.
Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, who had been with the company for five years, announced his resignation at the beginning of the year. Andy Forssell, senior vp content, was named acting CEO at the end of March.The company is a joint venture between Disney and News Corp. Hulu was valued at around $2 billion in 2012 after Providence Equity Partners sold a 10 percent stake for $200 million, according to Bloomberg.
In early March, The Wall Street Journalreported that News Corp. and Disney were having talks about having one company sell a stake to the other. Disney is said to favor a free approach to streaming video while News Corp. favored a paid subscription service, according to the Journal report.
The Reuters report notes that it "is not clear" whether this buyout possibility is still under discussion.
Chernin is currently the CEO of The Chernin Group. In December, the company made an investment in MiTu, an online network that runs YouTube channels targeting the Latino market. It recently acquired a minority stake in Graphic India, an animation company geared toward India's youth audiences.
Hulu declined to comment on the Reuters report. The Chernin Group has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Mary Tyler Moore Show' Cast Reminisces at Lively Reunion
Mary Tyler Moore, Valerie Harper, Betty White, Cloris Leachman and Georgia Engel are set to appear together in an episode of TV Land's "Hot in Cleveland" airing in September.
It was mostly laughter -- and only a few tears -- when the cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show reunited Thursday at the CBS Radford lot in Studio City to reminisce about their show and discuss their upcoming on-air reunion in TV Land's Hot in Cleveland.
Mary Tyler Moore, Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman will join Cleveland star Betty Whiteand recurring actress Georgia Engel in the Sept. 4 episode, appropriately titled "Love Is All Around" (that, of course, also was the title of Mary Tyler Moore's theme song). It marks the first time all five women have acted together since their 1970-77 series went off the air.
Though they have kept in touch over the years, the quintet also hasn't been together in the same place since the 2012 SAG Awards, where Moore was honored with a career achievement award.
Asked whether there was more tears or laughter while they've been shooting Cleveland, Harper replied: "I would say laughter, and the tears come up, and they’re part of the laughter. Did you ever laugh 'til you cried? That's been happening a lot. And the remembrances and the stories -- it's been wonderful, so full of life and joy and fun."
"And heartbreak, and sadness, and loneliness, and torment…," quipped Leachman to laughs.
Indeed, the actresses kept the throng of reporters, camera operators and publicists entertained throughout Thursday's press conference. The vibe was upbeat and positive, with the cast's chemistry clearly on display. Moore noted that they picked up right where they left off as if no time had passed.
"Even though we are playing different people [on Hot in Cleveland], we are still ourselves, and no matter where you put us, we will continue to be ourselves and interact as only you can when you've been together for a long, long time," she said.
Added White: "We're grateful for the fact that we love each other. We've always gotten along. It would be different if it were one of those shows where we don't speak. That wouldn't have been any fun."
The episode finds Elka (White) and Mamie Sue (Engel) deciding to get their bowling team -- named GLOB: the Gorgeous Ladies of Bowling -- back together. The team, which also includes, Diane (Moore), Peg (Leachman) and Angie (Harper), had a falling-out decades earlier after their championship season went to their heads.
Asked what motivated the group to reunite, Leachman quipped: "It wasn't the money."
The idea of the reunion came about through the Cleveland staff, and it was suggested that the first one to sign on was Moore, who said she was "thrilled" to do it. (She previously appeared in a season two episode of Cleveland as Elka's cellmate.) While their former co-stars Gavin MacLeod and Ed Asner were available to be a part of the reunion, Harper joked that the Cleveland writers wanted to keep the reunion "really high estrogen."
Meanwhile, Harper also addressed her recent revelation that she has terminal brain cancer during the event. She said she's gotten an "overwhelming" amount of support from fans in the form of letters, gifts and blankets as well as remedies.
"Some are a little questionable, but it comes from a good place," she said, noting that she's hoping to respond to everyone who reached out. As for her condition, "I don't have a lot of bad symptoms. Maybe down the road, but I'm not thinking about down the road; I'm thinking about today and getting my lines right."
She added that while her doctor told her she has only several months to live, she believes that it's impossible for anyone to accurately predict such a thing. "Every experience is different," she said.
Moore teared up once, when asked what her favorite scene with Harper was. She noted that anytime they were filming together, they had a shorthand.
"We look into each other's eyes and would be comforting and uplifting for each other," she said.
For her part, Harper said Moore often would graciously tell the writers to give jokes to Harper if she felt they would be better for her character.
Meanwhile, Moore admitted that it makes her sad that her she isn't able to see her former co-stars, as well as the cast and crew, more often.
"It makes me feel, well, why don't I have this in my current life?" she said. "Where are all these friends and buddies and co-workers and people who loved each other? Why aren't they around?"
At one point, the topic came around to the state of comedy today and the impact of their show on TV, with Moore noting that the Mary Tyler Moore writers were able to explore topics that hadn't already "been seen hundreds of times."
Harper also noted the writing on was held up to a high standard.
"Our writers wrote high-class comedy," she said. "They didn't throw a character overboard for a cheap joke, boobs and ass. They never went over the line."Hot in Cleveland returns with a live episode at 10 p.m. June 19. The Mary Tyler Moorereunion episode airs Sept. 4.
Beyonce, Jay-Z Turn Heads in Havana
Beyonce and Jay-Z caused a big stir in Havana as they marked their fifth wedding anniversary Thursday.
R&B's power couple was mobbed by dozens of well-wishers at the renowned restaurant La Guarida on Wednesday night, and police had to step in to keep the crowds at bay.
La Guarida staffers showed The Associated Press pictures of the two dining on typical Cuban creole favorites — fish, chicken, black beans and rice — accompanied by their mothers.
The privately run restaurant is famous as the filming location for the hit movie "Strawberry and Chocolate," and is a mainstay on Havana's tourist circuit.
Waitress Silvia Fernandez said Beyonce toured the eatery and looked at photos of past celebrity clients: Jack Nicholson, Jodie Foster, Danny Glover, Will Smith, James Belushi and more.
Their bodyguards' presence outside set the gritty, bustling neighborhood of Center Havana abuzz, and a crowd gathered downstairs shouting Beyonce's name until she went to a balcony and waved.
Police arrived and made sure she was able to exit without incident.
"She was beautiful, without a drop of makeup, very natural," waitress Silvia Fernandez said. "What happened with the people was incredible."
On Thursday the couple toured colonial Old Havana wearing dark glasses and surrounded by bodyguards and excited fans. Beyonce posed for pictures with local schoolchildren while Jay-Z puffed on a Cuban cigar, and then they popped into another restaurant that boasts a rooftop terrace with a sweeping view of the harbor.
Beyonce and Jay-Z declined to speak to reporters, and it was not clear why they traveled to Cuba. State-run website CubaSi called it a tourist trip.
Washington's 51-year embargo makes it illegal for U.S. citizens to visit Cuba for mere tourism, although tens of thousands of Americans travel here each year on academic, religious, journalistic or cultural exchange licenses. In the past, artists who were challenged by the government have said they visited for cultural purposes.
Beyonce, the multiple Grammy winner who performed at this year's Super Bowl halftime show and President Obama's inauguration, and Jay-Z, the rapper and entertainment mogul who recently went into the sports-agent business, were married April 4, 2008, in Paris.
CNN Replaces Anderson Cooper '360' Re-Airings With 'The Point
Last week it was Michael Basiden this week Anderson Cooper.
CNN has replaced re-airings of Anderson Cooper 360 in the 10 p.m. timeslot with (Get to) The Point, a week of special programming with a panel of guests including adman-pundit Donny Deutsch.
The Point panel will also feature ESPN columnist Rick Reilly, ESPN NFL analyst Jason Taylor and author Margaret Hoover.
CNN confirms that right now, The Point is a week of special programming. But sources at the network say that it is part of broader experimentation at the network aimed at revitalizing the lineup - and not just at 10 p.m.
Anderson Cooper, who's currently under contract with CNN and denied last week that he was in line to replace Matt Lauer on Today, recently told The Hollywood Reporter that he expects new CNN chief Jeff Zucker to keep his program in its 8 p.m. time slot, though the 10 p.m. repeat is likely to go away. He also praised Zucker's hands-on leadership style.
"[To] have somebody with Jeff’s experience not only as an executive and a manager, but as somebody whose sleeves are rolled up and has experience producing news programs, is fantastic," said Cooper. "I'm in constant discussions with Jeff, emails going back and forth, and it’s really dynamic and it’s really exciting to be here at this time."A week of special programming will debut at 10 p.m. with panelists including adman Donny Deutsch and ESPN's Rick Reilly.
Usher, Spike Lee Among Latest Performers and Presenters At The Hall of Fame
John Fogerty, Jackson Browne, Carole King, Mike
McCready and Jerry Cantrell also are among the latest crop of players set for
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction gala April 18.
Rookie The Voice coach Usher, California rock
veterans John Fogerty and Jackson
Browne and two-time Oscar nominee Spike Lee
are among the latest acts confirmed as performers or presenters at next month’s
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Los Angeles.
The Rock Hall said Tuesday that Usher will perform songs associated with
inductee Quincy Jones during the April 18 ceremony at the Nokia
Theatre, Fogerty and Browne will play with Randy Newman, and
Lee and two-time Grammy winner Harry Belafonte will induct
Also announced Tuesday: Cheech and Chong will present inductee Lou
Adler, who discovered the red-eyed comedy duo at the Troubadour in West
Hollywood and later directed their first movie, the stoner classic Up in
Smoke. Carole King will perform for Adler. And guitarists
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam and Jerry Cantrell
of Alice in Chains will perform with fellow Seattle-based band Heart.
Led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, Heart
is among the four acts in the Rock Hall Class of 2013 that will perform at the
event, along with Newman, Public Enemy and Rush. Also being honored at the 28th
annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony are blues guitar legend
Albert King and disco queen Donna Summer.
As announced in January, Dave Grohl and Taylor
of Foo Fighters will present Rush; John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr. will perform
for King, with Mayer giving the speech; Christina Aguilera and
Jennifer Hudson will perform in honor of Summer; and
Don Henley will induct Newman.
More performers and presented will be announced in the coming weeks.
The hall also announced Wednesday that Harman’s JBL will be the event’s
presenting sponsor and the Brennan Rock and Roll Academy will be an event
sponsor. Public tickets for the ceremony are sold out, but a limited quantity of
special benefit-level tickets and tables are available for purchase through LPA
HBO will televise the induction ceremony May 18.
Tom Cruise Wins Lawsuit Over Anthony Pellicano Wiretapping (Exclusive)
On Monday, the two prevailed on summary judgment against former Bold magazine editor Michael Davis Sapir, who accused the pair of hiring Anthony Pellicano to spy on him.
Sapir became entangled with Cruise more than a decade ago. The magazine editor offered a $500,000 reward for evidence that the actor was gay. Soon thereafter, the magazine claimed it had obtained video evidence that Cruise engaged in a homosexual relationship.
For making the claim, Sapir was hit with a $100 million defamation lawsuit. The suit eventually was settled, but before that happened, Cruise and his reps allegedly hired Pellicano to spy on Sapir.
For this, the editor filed a $5 million lawsuit against Cruise and Fields.
As evidence of the spying, Sapir's lawsuit said that the FBI recovered a file from Pellicano's offices titled "Michael Davis matter" and a computer file entitled "Bold" with the password "Bold cocksucker omerta." The lawsuit alleged that Pellicano was listening into conversations that Sapir had with his attorney about the Cruise defamation lawsuit.
Sapir's lawsuit against Cruise and Pellicano had other salacious tidbits. For example, Sapir also alleged that Pellicano taped recordings between Cruise and Nicole Kidman while the actors were going through their divorce.
But the lawsuit hasn't survived.
On Monday, a Los Angeles Superior Court ruled from the bench that the allegations weren't brought within the statute of limitations.
Judge Elihu Berle said that by 2003, Sapir had seen news reports about Pellicano activities and that Sapir admittedly was suspicious. Because he had reasonable suspicions, Sapir had a duty to investigate further. The plaintiff didn't, and the lawsuit wasn't filed until December 2009.
Cruise joins Brad Grey as escaping Pellicano-related lawsuits thanks to the claims being time-barred. Many other lawsuits proceed, including one against Michael Ovitz for allegedly hiring Pellicano to intimidate Anita Busch. Recently, the same judge ruled that Ovitz has failed to show that he's entitled to summary judgment on statute of limitation grounds.
Lifetime Prepping Jodi Arias TV Movie
With the murder trial gaining national interest, it's poised to join the cable network's recent roster of true-crime telepics about Drew Peterson, Carlina White and Casey Anthony.
With the Jodi Arias trial continuing to draw national interest and pull particularly strong ratings for HLN, another cable network is jumping on story.
As the Lifetime brand evolves with more and more original series (The Client List, Army Wives and upcoming Devious Maids), true-crime TV movies remain one of the network's biggest draws. Three of Lifetime's biggest ratings hauls of the last year and half came from Drew Peterson: Untouchable; Abducted: The Carlina White Story; and Prosecuting Casey Anthony.Lifetime is prepping a telepic about the woman accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend,The Hollywood Reporterconfirms. The news was first reported
The news is little surprise, given how high-profile Arias coverage has become in recent weeks. The Arizona woman is accused of killing former boyfriendTravis Alexander. He was found dead in 2008 with a gunshot to the head, multiple stab wounds and a slit throat.
Joshua D. Maurer, Alixandre Witlin andJudith Verno, the same team behind Drew Peterson, will executive produce the untitled project. Their previous efforts include Lifetime's The Craigslist Killer and Hallmark's Who Is Clark Rockefeller?The Arias trial began on Jan. 2. Arias has testified that she did kill Alexander -- but in self-defense.
Berry Gordy to Be Honored by Songwriters Hall of Fame
The founder of Motown Records will be awarded the Pioneer Award at this year's gala.
Record producer and Motown Records founder Berry Gordy will be honored with the Pioneer Award at this year’s Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards gala. The award was established last year to "honor the career of a historic creator of an extensive body of musical work that has been a major influence on generations of songwriters," according to the organization. The 2012 award was given posthumously toWoody Guthrie.
"Berry Gordy is an innovator and a visionary," said Jimmy Webb, Songwriters Hall of Fame chairman. "Yes, he created a label, but more than that, he created a genre. Think about it, he pioneered a marketplace for African-American artistry, and then he invited the world in to enjoy it."
Gordy and Motown Records are responsible for the careers of artists such as Diana Ross and The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5, to name a few.
A musical based on Gordy’s life, Motown: The Musical, debuted on Broadway this week.
Gordy will join previously announced Hall of Fame inductees Tony Hatch, Mick Jones, Lou Gramm, Holly Knight, JD Souther, Steven Tyler, and Joe Perry at this year's event. The Songwriters Hall of Fame’s 44th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner is slated for Thursday, June 13.
How Herb Alpert's $5.5 Million Saved the Harlem School of the Arts
The music legend's gift puts his name on the door and means no more worrying about "how to keep the lights on."
Two years ago, the Harlem School of the Arts was forced to close its doors for a month because of a budget crisis. Now, thanks to musician-turned-philanthropist Herb Alpert, its financial house is in order and its corridors are alive with the sound of dancers' swift feet and the echoing lines of great playwrights.
In appreciation, on March 11 it will rename itself The Harlem School of the Arts -- The Herb Alpert Center. The rebranding comes after Alpert helped rescue it with a lion's share of grants totaling $5.5 million from his foundation, established in 1988 with his wife, singer Lani Hall.
For nearly a half-century, the private school -- founded by concert soprano Dorothy Maynor -- has provided free or low-cost visual and performing arts classes to 3,000 mainly African-American and Latino neighborhood children. Its graduates have gone on to schools like Juilliard and professional careers, among them Tony-winning actress Condola Rashad and Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito.
Alpert read about the situation in The New York Times in 2010 and stepped in with half of the $1 million needed to resume classes and later with more than $5 million to replenish the endowment, pay off the school's mortgage and fund scholarships.
"I couldn't imagine that an artistic community like Harlem could lose an art center. The arts open up a child's imagination," says Alpert, who grew up in L.A.'s Fairfax district and remembers when his grammar school invited students to select an instrument from a table. "I picked up a trumpet and got interested in playing. Kids for the most part are not having that opportunity anymore."
School president Yvette Campbell says that because of Alpert, school officials no longer are worrying about "how we're going to keep the lights on."
Harlem is only the most recent beneficiary of Alpert's philanthropy. Since 1990, the A&M Records co-founder has given $120 million to arts education, including a $30 million grant to UCLA to establish the Herb Alpert School of Music -- a generous gesture from a guy who once played in USC's marching band.
Hawaii Senate Passes Steven Tyler Act on Privacy
The Hawaii state Senate passed the so-called Steven Tyler Act Tuesday, a bill that seeks to protect celebrities from overeager paparazzi by creating a civil violation if people take unwanted photos or videos of others in their private moments.
The Aerosmith frontman from Massachusetts asked Sen. Kalani English to sponsor the legislation after unwanted photos were taken of him and his girlfriend last December and published in a national magazine, causing family drama.
Tyler owns a multimillion dollar home in Maui, which is part of English's district. English said the proposal could help increase celebrity tourism in Hawaii.
Twenty-three of the state's 25 Senate members voted in favor of the bill, which now goes to the House for consideration.
Sen. Sam Slom, the body's only Republican, opposed the measure.
"We have been the butt of many editorials and jokes across the country for this proposed legislation," he said.Slom said senators had fun with the bill, but Hawaii has adequate laws protecting privacy and this proposal is an attack on First Amendment rights.
"My final remarks to Steven Tyler as he sang so eloquently are, 'Dream on, dream on,'" Slom joked.
Sen. Les Ihara also voted against the measure.
Besides Tyler, other celebrities have supported the bill, including Britney Spears, Mick Fleetwood and the Osborne family.
They say intrusive paparazzi make it difficult to enjoy simple activities with family and friends.
But national media organizations worry about the proposal's impact on freedom of the press. The National Press Photographers Association and the Society of Professional Journalists were some of several national media organizations that submitted testimony opposing the bill.
The Senate Judiciary Committee responded to criticism of the measure's vague language by replacing the original version with the text of an existing California anti-paparazzi statute.
But longtime media lawyer Jeff Portnoy said the bill is still problematic.
"It's better, but it doesn't change its fatal flaws," he said. The measure's language is still ambiguous and it is unnecessary, given Hawaii's existing laws, Portnoy said.
"Our only chance to get some sanity into this is in the House," he said.
Jimi Hendrix New Release - People, Hell and Angels
In her autobiography about being a young artist in New York City, Just Kids, Patti Smith described attending the opening night party for a new recording studio in August of 1970. Being shy and easily overwhelmed by crowds, she spent a great deal of time outside on the fire escape with the equally shy musician responsible for the studio's existence. Jimi Hendrix didn't have too much longer to live when he sat on the fire escape outside his newly opened Electric Ladyland Studios with the young poet. The studio was to be the place where he would experiment and play music away from the demands of the world-he was only able to do so for four weeks before going on the road and ultimately passing away in September. Today, more then 40 years after Hendrix's death, the studio is one part of his legacy to the world of music. (Smith is only one of many artists who recorded there too, taking advantage of what Hendrix created.)
Johnny Depp Commits to Star in 'Transcendence,' 'Black Mass' Back-to-Back in 2013
Johnny Depp has set his next two movies.
He will star in Transcendence, a sci-fi thriller to be directed by Inception cinematographer Wally Pfister. He then will segue into Black Mass, a biopic of Boston gangster Whitey Bulger for director Barry Levinson.
Transcendence, financed and produced by Alcon Entertainment (Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas are executive producing), will begin shooting in April. The film, written by newcomer Jack Paglen, will be released by Warner Bros. The story has not been revealed, but sources say Depp will play a scientist whose brain is uploaded into a supercomputer.
After that film, Depp will move on to Black Mass, based on the nonfiction Bulger book by Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill. Shooting on that film, financed by Cross Creek and Exclusive Media, is set to begin in summer.
Depp, repped by UTA and Bloom Hergott, next hits theaters in The Lone Ranger, set for release July 3 by Disney.
Bruce Lee Origin Story Heading to Big Screen
Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen Rivele, whose credits include "Nixon" and "Ali," have been hired to write the script.
QED International and banner Groundswell Productions are aiming to tell a Bruce Lee origin story with Birth of the Dragon, tapping scribes Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen Rivele to pen the tale.
Dragon, according to QED and Groundswell, is inspired by the true-life duel between Lee and Wong Jack Man, who was China’s most famous kung fu Master. The no-rules fight took place in San Francisco in 1965, when the city’s Chinatown was controlled by Hong Kong triads.
The writers are using this true event as a jumping-off point for a wider-canvas action movie in which Wong and Lee team up to battle a band of Chinatown gangsters.
QED CEO Bill Block and Groundswell’s Michael London will produce the project along with Wilkinson and Rivele. Groundswell’s Kelly Mullen will exec produce.
"Stephen Rivele and Chris Wilkinson have taken a little-known chapter in the life of Bruce Lee and used it as a jumping-off point for a bold, exciting story about the making of an international legend,” said London in a statement.
Wilkinson and Rivele are best known for their biopic work. The duo’s credits include Nixon, the 1995 drama directed by Oliver Stone that netted them an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay, and 2001's Ali, directed by Michael Mann. They also wrote Mercury, the story of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, which is set up at GK Films with Sacha Baron Cohen to star.
Sofia Vergara's 'Killer Women' Adaptation, Score Pilot Orders at ABC
ABC is expanding its relationship with Emmy nominee Sofia Vergara -- ordering to pilot an adaptation of Argentine series Killer Women -- and is adding a drama from Awake creator Kyle Killen
Killer Women is a soapy procedural revolving around a female Texas Ranger, with the Modern Family star attached to executive produce the hour-long project. The project landed at the network with a script commitment in October.
The drama is based on the POL-KA Productiones' Argentine series Mujeres Asesinas, which itself is based on the book trilogy of the same name by Marisa Grinstein.
Hannah Shakespeare (The Raven) will pen the pilot script and executive produce alongside feature director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), Vergara and her Latin World Entertainment partner Luis Balaguer.
The drama hails from ABC Studios and Electus, with Ben Silverman also on board to executive produce. It marks Electus's first pilot order this season; the company has a pilot presentation for a semi-autobiographical Jessica Simpson comedy set up at NBC.
Worth noting: ABC also has a semi-autobiographical comedy from Vergara's Modern Family co-star Ty Burrell awaiting word on its future. Burrell co-wrote the script with his brother, Duncan Burrell.
For its part, Killen's Influence is being billed as a provocative workplace ensemble centered on the complicated relationship between two brothers who head a unique agency designed to attack their clients’ problems using the real science of human motivation and manipulation.
The pair of dramas becomes the network's sixth and seventh pickups this pilot season, joining a legal drama from House creator David Shore, among others.
Killen, who wrote theMel Gibson/Jodie FosterfilmThe Beaver, is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Lichter Grossman; Vergara is repped by CAA and Hansen Jacobson; Shakespeare is repped by CAA, Silent R Management and Felker Toczek.
'Crouching Tiger' Actress Prostitution Story
The lawyers fighting Zhang Ziyi's defamation lawsuit as an impingement of free speech, are objecting to the unmasking of "politically vulnerable" Chinese sources.
On Friday, a California federal court will play host to an important hearing in actress Zhang Ziyi's defamation lawsuit against U.S.-based China Free Press and a journalist over published claims that she is a prostitute who has earned more than $100 million for having sexual relations with high-ranking Chinese officials.
Zhang, who has starred in such films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero and Rush Hour 2, is looking to force Weican Null Meng, who writes for the Chinese dissident news website Boxun, to give up the sources that led to his prostitution reports. Zhang says the scandal has cost her quite a bit of income in the entertainment industry and ruined potential endorsement deals with luxury designer brand Michael Kors, French automaker Citroen and others.
But this is hardly the typical defamation case.
The defendants are gearing up for the Friday hearing that will determine whether and how the lawsuit proceeds. Lives will be on the line.
The stories originally gained attention not only due to the inclusion of a famous actress but also Bo Xilai, a former member of China's Communist government who was ousted from his post and entangled in a political scandal that forced his house arrest on charges of playing a role in the murder of a British businessman. The scandal drew international news attention, and Meng reported an untold aspect of the story -- that Bo and other high-level Communist Party officials in China had hired Zhang as a prostitute.
The stories were picked up by a plethora of news outlets including CNN, The Huffington Post and Yahoo.
Zhang's libel lawsuit that followed said the prostitution story was based on anonymous stories and not true at all and that when Boxun News was contacted about the falsity of the allegations, the publication refused to run a retraction.
Meng's attorney Marc Randazza then stood up to challenge the lawsuit as a "SLAPP," meaning an alleged use of the legal process to interfere with his client's First Amendment rights. In this instance, Randazza said the actress' legal move "seemed like a clever Chinese government plan to flush out the source, or, as a consolation prize, to shut down a journalistic gadfly."
In bringing an anti-SLAPP motion to strike the claims, Randazza also says the suit was filed "solely to create a Hobson's choice for its defendants: Either divulge their anonymous sources inside the People's Republic of China so that they may be subject to cruel, unusual and inhumane persecution, or surrender their own rights to free expression under the United States Constitution."
During the course of the litigation, Meng testified that there were three sources that formed the basis of his reports. "Source A" was someone Meng had relied upon extensively in the past who had learned the information from a Chinese businessman who was arrested as part of the corruption case against Bo. This primary source is described by the journalist as having a track record of reliability. "Source B" was an entertainment industry insider or a researcher in the social science area who had familiarity with the entertainment business. "Source C" was a freelance reporter Zhao Yan, who formerly worked for The New York Times and was arrested in China for leaking info about the Chinese leadership to foreign media.
Meng's attorneys has submitted a declaration from David Ardia, a media law professor at the University of North Carolina, who met with Meng about her sources, reviewed materials and documents in the case and conducted a post-publication libel assessment. His conclusion? "There is no basis to correct or retract the stories at issue in this case," he says in court documents.
Meanwhile, Zhang's attorneys at the Glaser Weil Fink law firm call the information provided by these sources to be "nothing more than rumors, innuendo and hearsay -- several if not many times removed."
Additionally, they have submitted their own declarations attacking the journalism practices of the defendants. For example, Hollywood attorney Larry Stein has submitted his own opinion in which he states it to be remarkable and against industry practice that Meng never attempted to verify his story with Zhang's representatives. He says that at a minimum, this demonstrates a reckless disregard for the truth.
He also says that "if reporters are permitted to write false statements and then hide behind anonymous sources known only to them allegedly out of concern about what might happen to such sources if they are disclosed, they can say whatever they want with impunity."
Friday's hearing will get into all sorts of legally tricky issues.
One is jurisdiction. Should a North Carolina-based journalist who has written about a Chinese actress receiving $100 million from Chinese officials in exchange for sexual services be forced to defend litigation in California?
Another has to do with whether Zhang needs to post a $200,000 bond for the case to continue. If Zhang loses on the anti-SLAPP motion, California law provides the defendant with the possibility of recovering legal fees. Meng's attorneys say they don't want a situation where Zhang, a Chinese citizen, can skip out on paying; Zhang's attorneys say the bond motion is moot because the concurrently heard motion to strike the lawsuit will settle this money issue.
And finally, the hearing will resolve how the case proceeds.
In reaction to Meng's anti-SLAPP motion, the actress' attorneys say that their lawsuit isn't meritless -- that she has a right to her reputation and business interests. The plaintiff says Meng has failed to meet the burden of showing the alleged defamatory statements concern an issue of public interest, arguing that supposed "sex deals" don't have much to do with a "major political scandal." The plaintiff say they have alleged sufficient evidence to prevail on their claims that the defendants acted with actual malice by avoiding the truth in regards to libelous statements. And Zhang's attorneys say that at a minimum, their client is entitled to know more about these confidential sources.
"The identities of Defendants' sources are necessary to test their veracity and reliability and to determine whether such sources even exist," Zhang's legal papers say.
Oprah Winfrey No Longer World’s Richest Black Woman
*Oprah Winfrey has reportedly been unseated as the world’s richest black woman.
According to a report published by Ventures Africa, an African business magazine and news service, the new title holder is Nigerian fashion designer and oil tycoon Folorunsho Alakija, who is worth an estimated $3.3 billion. That’s $500 million richer than Winfrey, whose wealth Forbes magazine estimated at $2.7 billion in September.
Alakija, 61, is the founder and owner of Famfa oil, a Nigerian oil company which owns a 60% working interest in OML 127, an offshore oil field which produces 200,000 barrels of oil per day.
“Total E&P recently sold off its 20% stake in a similar oil field to China’s Sinopec for $2.5 billion,” explains Ventures Africa editor Douglas Imaralu. “The oil field in question has a daily production capacity of 180,000 barrels a day.
“Similarly, other hand, OML 127 in which Famfa has a 60% interest produces about 200,000 barrels a day. When we did the math using the Total-Sinopec deal as a comparator, we came to the realization that Alakija’s stake is easily worth billions of dollars. We showed our calculations on ventures-africa.com. At this point, we have no doubt that she is indeed, richer than Oprah.
What's Going On? Top 20 UFO Sightings 2012 Watch Now!
Kim Kardashiam Skirt Cause outrage
Kim Kardashian looks to have left her underwear at home as she heads out for an early dinner with boyfriend Kanye West in Miami. As Kim checked out her outfit in the reflection of her car, it became apparent that the reality star was not wearing any underwear as she showed off her see-through grey skirt.
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