Rock star Lita Ford is to be honoured with Guitar Player magazine's Certified Legend Award at an all-star charity gig in Los Angeles later this month (Mar14). The rocker will take part in the second annual Rock Against MS All-Star Benefit at the Whisky a Go-Go on 26 March (14), alongside Steve Stevens, Gilby Clarke and Cherie Currie - and she'll pick up a very special accolade at the event.
Guitar Player magazine bosses will be there to present Ford with their top award, inspired by Chet Atkins' phrase 'Certified Guitar Player'.
The first award was handed to Les Paul in 2003 and recipients have included Duane Eddy, Dick Dale, Lee Ritenour and Joe Perry, among others.
Kids' movies may be the most difficult cinematic mountains to climb. The filmmakers must cater to two perspectives at constant odds with one another: young ones who find amusement in simplistic stories and broadly painted humor and their parents who need enough of a grounded hook emotional core and clever jokes to keep them from nodding off. Not an easy task.
To see this winning combination pulled off by a 3-D animation/live-action hybrid adaptation of a rather irritatingly sweet cartoon from the '80s…well it's both a shocking and welcome surprise. The Smurfs transcends recent property-grabs like Garfield Alvin and the Chipmunks and Marmaduke by embracing the cartooniness relishing in the fact that it can get away with anything with the help of adorable little blue people.
Smurfs takes the model employed by 2007's Enchanted kicking things off in the colorful fantasy world of Smurf Village and quickly bringing its cheery clueless characters to the terrifying metropolis of New York. After Clumsy Smurf accidentally leads the Smurf-obsessive Gargamel (Hank Azaria) to the hidden mushroom haven of his brethren the bumbling black sheep of the Smurf family finds himself and a few clan members Papa Brainy Grumpy Gutsy Smurfette at the wrong end of a Blue Moon-induced worm hole. The group (along with Gargamel and his cat) find themselves face-planted in NYC's Central Park where they meet Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) yes man to the cosmetic titan Odile. This sets the race in motion—the Smurfs enlisting the help of Patrick to find a way back home Patrick seeking the perfect ad campaign for Odile's new make-up line and Gargamel questing hungrily for a few drops of Smurf essence.
If Smurfs was simply a barrage of fart jokes and pop culture references the movie wouldn't click but by giving each of his characters something to do (seems obvious no?) director Raja Gosnell injects the film with a helpful dose of heart. Along with Clumsy's quest to be more than his name insists Harris' Patrick also has his own problems to overcome. Namely preparing to be a Papa Smurf to the kid he's about to have with his wife Grace (Glee's Jayma Mays). Harris and Mays take their roles here seriously going all out when they need to chase the adventurous Smurfs around town in one slapsticky sequence after another but they put just as much into their smaller scenes. One moment where Papa Smurf sits Patrick down for a "Dad talk" even has weight—a near impossible task for a "kids" movie.
But let's not get too sappy: the movie is funny plain and simple. Azaria makes a living bringing cartoon characters to life—he's a reason why The Simpsons has been on for more than 20 years—and his goofy Gargamel antics are inspired. A recurring gag where the evil wizard continually steps through ventilation steam grates probably read fine on paper but Azaria knows how to play big and doesn't allow any moment of physical comedy to lazily fall through the cracks. On the flip side Harris nails the straight man role and acknowledges that hanging out with Smurfs is just as bizarre as you'd imagine. Think The Brady Bunch Movie for the world of animation.
With solid kids' flicks becoming a rare occurrence Smurfs is a breath of fresh air a film that believes in its own simple message while simultaneously being self-aware of its cartoonish heritage. The movie's a smurfy good time but it takes a particularly smurfy Smurf to let go of cynical baggage and smurf it.
Top Story: Zeta-Jones Upset Over Atkins Stories
Lawyers for Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones have sent letters to several news organizations that released reports that the actress had been using the Atkins diet. According Reuters, lawyers say the actress has been wrongly linked to the weight-loss technique and her image could suffer damages as a result. "We intend to pursue claims on her behalf against each and every publication responsible for the creation and initial growth of these false and damaging stories," her attorneys warned. Since their release to the various news organizations in question, copies of the letter, which was signed by Zeta-Jones' attorney John Lavely, have surfaced on several sites across the Web, including The Smoking Gun (www.thesmokinggun.com). Atkins spokesman Richard Rothstein said in a statement, "It's never been our policy to seek celebrity endorsements….Where tabloids get their info is a complete mystery to me." Lavely further slammed the stories, adding that they made it appear that Zeta-Jones is more concerned with her physical appearance than her health.
Flynt Protecting Nude Photos of Jessica Lynch
In what could be called an out-of-character role reversal, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt announced that he has acquired semi-nude photos of U.S. Army private and former POW Jessica Lynch so that he can "keep them out of circulation," Reuters reports. The pictures reportedly depict a topless Lynch frolicking with two men at Fort Bliss, Texas, where she had been stationed before being sent to the Middle East. Regarding the photos, Flynt said in a statement, "I purchased them at first with the intention of publishing them; however, I quickly changed my mind and decided simply to keep them out of circulation…If Jessica Lynch wants to join the army and see the world, and if she wants to have a good time while she's at it, I'm not here to judge her." Lynch was marked as a national hero after being wounded, imprisoned, and eventually rescued during the U.S. campaign against the Iraqi regime.
Timberlake Ventures Into Restaurant Industry
Justin Timberlake, 22, has become the latest high-profile celebrity to venture into the restaurant industry. According to the Associated Press, Timberlake is now a partner at Chi, a new hot spot on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. In his newest venture, Timberlake joins up with co-owners Art and Allan Davis, who already own three other clubs in the L.A. area. "Justin's been frequenting our clubs for a few years now and we got to meet him and talk to him, and he loved the dim sum idea. He loved the look of the place and wanted to be involved. So we got him involved," said Allan Davis. The Los Angeles Times has described the new club as "1930s Shanghai-meets-Blade Runner."
50 Cent, Record Label Sued for $21M
According to AP, rapper 50 Cent, along with his record label Interscope Records, is being sued by a New York Post photographer who claims that he was attacked by the music star's bodyguards on Aug. 27. In the lawsuit, which has been filed in state Supreme Court on Monday, James Alcom alleges that he was "assaulted and battered" by seven of 50 Cent's guards as he was photographing the rapper in New York City's diamond district. The lawsuit accuses 50 Cent and his record label of "not exercising reasonable care and diligence in the employment" of his bodyguards.
Madonna Releases Second Children's Book
Madonna's second book geared towards children, entitled Mr. Peabody's Apples, is now available in bookstores, AP reports. Regarding the origins of her latest work, the 45-year-old pop singer said in a statement, "This book was inspired by a nearly 300-year-old story that was told to me by my Kabbalah teacher." She continued, "When I began to write books for children, I decided to share the essence of this story in one of them. ... I hope I have done his story justice." The pop diva-turned-children's author gave her first ever reading of the new book before over 300 fourth through eighth graders at a private school in Montclair, N.J., Tuesday morning. With her first book, The English Roses, already a best seller, Mr. Peabody's Apples will be released in over 110 countries worldwide.
Joey Ramone To Be Memorialized on NYC Corner
According to Rolling Stone, Joey Ramone of the legendary punk rock band The Ramones will be honored in a ceremony at the corner of Second Street and the Bowery in New York City on Nov. 30. In the ceremony, the corner will be named "Joey Ramone's Place." Ramone's new corner is located very near to CBGB, a well-known club that helped usher in punk music. Said CBGB owner Hilly Kristal, "As far as the city recognizing Joey, it's about time…The Ramones meant a lot to this city and to music. They were the original punk rock band. Their longevity supercedes anybody who sold more records, and the consistency and meaning of their name is greater than anybody in the punk rock field." Since the rocker's death from cancer in April of 2001, fans of Ramone had been lobbying to get the corner named after him.
AMA Gift Baskets Valued at $31K Each
According to AP, gift baskets for this year's American Music Awards show participants are worth an estimated $31,000--in honor of the show's 31st anniversary. The baskets contain nearly 150 items including first-class plane tickets, karaoke machines and gift certificates for laser eye surgery. In a statement Monday, AMA executive producer Dick Clark said, "I understand it's going to take at least two oversized bags for each of them to carry away the 'loot.' Heh, if it's $31,000 now, I can't wait to see what [Hollywood Connection, a company that specializes in assembling gift bags for awards shows] comes up with when the show turns 50." The awards show is set to air Sunday on ABC, with comedian Jimmy Kimmel to host.
Screener Ban May Not be Affecting Indie Studio Practices
With the film awards season drawing closer, many independent film studios will be taking advantage of the fact that they are not required to adhere to the guidelines of the partial ban on "screener" videos that has been imposed by the Motion Picture Association of America, Reuters reports. While majors such as Disney, Universal, MGM and their subsidiaries must abide by the rules of the ban, smaller, "stand-alone" studios, such as Lions Gate Films and Magnolia Pictures, are not under the jurisdiction of the MPAA, and therefore are not required to follow