U.S comedian David Brenner has lost his battle with cancer, aged 78. The funnyman, who was a regular guest on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show, passed away in New York on Saturday (15Mar14).
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1936, Brenner appeared on Carson's late-night show more times than any other comic. He was a very popular entertainer on the cabaret circuit and featured in cult 2005 movie The Aristocrats.
He missed out on major TV fame in the mid-1970s when his Shampoo spin-off series, Snip,was pulled from the air before its first episode after network bosses discovered one of his its characters was gay. The show did screen in Australia and became an instant hit - but only ran for seven episodes.
Brenner was married to actress Elizabeth Slater and ice skater Tai Babilonia.
There's a wealth of material for filmmakers to pry out of the troubles that America has faced in the past decade. The depressed economy, the plight of the returning soldier, and the loss of American industry have all informed the plots of many of the best films written in the past couple years. In his second directorial effort, Out of the Furnace, filmmaker Scott Cooper attempts to turn the myriad of America’s most pressing issues into a story set in the backdrop of the country’s hard suffering Rust Belt, but he comes away with a merely competent dramatic thriller that clearly aspired to be something grander.
In the film, Christian Bale plays the hardworking and upstanding Russell Baze, an almost impossibly good-natured man who has worked in the local steel mill his entire life, and had planned, just like his ailing father, to do so until the day he died. But when the steel mill is scheduled to close, Baze's way of life as well as the town itself is crippled. Casey Affleck plays Russell's sensitive brother Rodney, whose tours in Iraq have left him emotionally eruptive and dissatisfied with his brother’s working man existence; Rodney would rather spend his time competing in underground fighting rings where he can still feel something. Rodney soon finds himself wrapped up in violent and reactionary crime ring that doesn't take kindly to strangers. It’s up to Russell to save his brother from the grips of the areas most terrifying criminals
Out of the Furnace is appealingly glum. Cooper finds beauty in the rolling hills and crumbling infrastructure of small town Pennsylvania, and the film fully embraces the derelict beauty of its settings, down to even the homes and the cars that the characters own. The film clearly prides itself on feeling authentic and it reaches its goals visually — at the very least.
The relationship between the brothers Baze also feels remarkably authentic. Both Bale and Affleck sell the relationship deftly, and have an almost tangible amount of on-screen chemistry that expresses their bond for each other in a way that no script could. This chemistry makes the scenes where Rodney has gone missing burn with terrific dramatic intensity.
There’s a quiet desperation in these people. Though they may be hopeful and happy in their set paths, there’s a feeling that they’re all walking along streets heading nowhere. America isn’t the land of opportunity anymore, not for the soldiers or the factory workers. The only thriving ones seem to be the criminals like Woody Harrelson’s Curtis Degroat, who is so overarchingly villainous that the only thing the character is missing is a dastardly moustache to twirl.
And this is the big issue with Out of the Furnace. While Harrelson’s performance is at times chilling, the script often dovetails Degroat into an overdone cartoon bad guy, and this weak characterization flows through a lot of the characters and seriously undermines a lot of the authenticity that the film believes itself to be built upon. There's a particularly groan-inducing scene where Degroat decries the human race in the gruffest voice he can muster. Woody’s Degroat character, and most of the others in the film, aren’t so much developed characters, but act more like clichéd archetypes in Cooper’s parable about a broken America. Degroat is simply the bad guy, and not characterized beyond that one-dimensional role in this story. Affleck’s wounded war veteran feels overwrought as well, with many of his scenes laying down the melodrama in thick sheets, particularly when he’s discussing the terrors he’s faced in the war oversees.
Out of the Furnace has a lot of things on its mind about the state of America’s small towns and working class heroes, but it doesn’t know the best way to express itself, and while some of it’s sentiments ring true others clank harshly like an off-note. The remarkable cast does its best to prop up a film that wants to tell a great American story, but it only manages to tell a fairly middling one.
First Reese Witherspoon and now, quite possibly, Charlize Theron. Author Gillian Flynn not only knows how to get readers hooked with her books, she attracts A-list stars to their big screen adaptations.
The Oscar-winning Witherspoon is on board to produce (and perhaps star in) the movie version of Flynn's talked-about bestseller Gone Girl (David Fincher is set to adapt the dark nail-biter), and now, according to Deadline, the Oscar-winning Theron is the name attached to the big screen adaption of Flynn's other talked-about bestseller Dark Places. (Hollywood.com reached out to Theron's reps for a response to the report, but they could not be immediately reached for contact.)
RELATED: Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender Get Their ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ On — PICS
While the project originally had Amy Adams on board, Theron is now a strong contender for the part. And what a part it is. In the film, Theron would play the story's protagonist Libby, a woman who, as a child, witnessed the murder of her mother and sisters by what's thought to be a cult. Years after testifying against her brother in court for the crime, Libby, who has since become a hardened recluse, crosses paths with the Kill Club, a secret group dedicated to solving grisly mysteries and crimes. Libby then must recall, through a series of flashbacks, the horrific murders and begin to piece it all back together. Like we said, it's quite a role, not to mention one Theron is more than suited for, considering what she's done with darker material before. (See: The Road, Young Adult, Monster, In the Valley of Elah.)
RELATED: David Fincher to Adapt 'Gone Girl', Because This Guy Loves Dark Bestsellers About Killing.
Dark Places, which has Gilles Paquet-Brenner (Sarah’s Key, Pretty Things) attached as a director, is reportedly looking for a March 2013 start date. In the meantime, Theron's next project Mad Max: Fury Road, doesn't hit theaters until 2014.
RELATED: Hollywood.com Picks The 10 Best Books of 2012 (And 5 That Pretty Much Sucked)
[Photo credit: WENN]
You Might Also Like:
Biden? Ford? Surprisingly Hot Young Pics of Politicians
Who Wore This Crazy Hat?
Stars Who Changed Their Look After Love
David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
This Friday, Prometheus — the sorta-prequel to returning director Ridley Scott’s own 1979 sci-fi masterpiece, Alien — invades theaters, with Michael Fassbender as the title ship’s butler and maintenance man, David, who just so happens to be an android (Fassbender has said that he modeled the motions and mannerisms of David after Olympic swimmer Greg Louganis rather than previous big-screen versions of the robotic human doppelgangers). It got us thinking about the movie androids that preceded him, er, it, and how far Hollywood has come in that department.
T-800, T-850, T-101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Terminator Movies
Super-human powers: Is an expert computer system at its (zillion) core; power source, er, lifespan of up to 120 years; vastly superior endoskeleton to that of humankind; self-healing.
Weaknesses: The human resistance; the noses of dogs; other Terminators (like Robert Patrick’s liquid-metal shape-shifting T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day).
Notes: We know, we know: Technically, Ahnuld’s Terminator is a cyborg, not a full-on android, but the difference between the two (some humanlike organic composition for the former vs. 100% robot for the latter) is negligible enough for us, for the purpose of this list, to mention Schwarzenegger — who himself may someday turn out to be the greatest android ever!
Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner), Star Trek Movies/TV Series
Superhuman powers: Positronic brain; immune to all biological diseases (except polywater); can be disassembled for easy storage; waterproof.
Weaknesses: Unable to dream; vulnerable to tech hazards and viruses; cannot swim.
Notes: Armed with nothing more than a pretty bad makeup job and his own (purposefully) robotic performance, Spiner was able to cement a spot in the hearts of many a techie and Trekkie during his lengthy tenure (TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation and four Star Trek films) as Data. He also provided countless laughs over the years, of both the intentional and unintentional variety.
Replicants, Blade Runner
Superhuman powers: Superior strength, agility, and intelligence; fully programmable for any mission.
Weaknesses: Voight-Kampff tests; the term “skin-job”; four-year lifespan.
Notes: There will seemingly forever be a lack of clarity as to whether or not Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard was himself a replicant, due to everything from the fact there are a whopping seven different versions of Blade Runner to his failure of the Voight-Kampff test. The key people involved in the movie are split on the issue, but for what it’s worth, Deckard was written as a human in the Philip K. Dick novel on which the big-screen version is based. The debate rages on, with full Web sites currently devoted to the topic!
SID 6.7 (Russell Crowe), Virtuosity
Super-human powers: Can be programmed with multiple, variable personalities, used advantageously (for evil); tons of RAM capacity; capable of regeneration.
Weaknesses: Denzel Washington; impalement.
Notes: Virtuosity remains something of a disaster cinematically, but the virtual reality-gone-murderous concept makes for quite a mindf***, even if the execution thereof doesn’t quite work. Plus, we’ll watch Denzel and Russell square off all day, any day!
Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley), Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Superhuman powers: Super-humanly hot; skill with a Desert Eagle
Weaknesses: Vulnerable to Austin Powers’s “charms.”
Notes: Early on in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Kensington self-destructs after malfunctioning related to a TV remote, and it is revealed that she was a fembot all along. She’s still the prettiest damned robot since Rosie on The Jetsons.
David (Haley Joel Osment), A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
Superhuman powers: Endless love; ability to not blink; great posture; undrownable.
Weaknesses: Can’t swim; sibling jealousy; has the emotions of a real boy.
Notes: Reaction to this Steven Spielberg-directed (and Stanley Kubrick-hatched) sci-fi drama remains mixed to this day, but there’s no denying that Osment was superb and believable as the main “humanoid,” to an almost disturbing degree — which was thanks more so to his astute interpretation of David than any effects wizardry.
Ash (Ian Holm), Alien (1979)
Bishop (Lance Henriksen), Aliens (1986)
Surrogates, Surrogates (2009)
Gunslinger (Yul Brenner), Westworld (1973)
As Jason Segel once sang, "Life is a happy song." That's a certainty. Of course, murder can sort of put a strain on that mentality. Segel's The Muppets costar, Amy Adams (who, among a cast of beloved bug-eyed puppets, was quite possibly the most adorable character onscreen) is taking up with a particularly severe new project: Dark Places, written and directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner from the novel by Gillian Flynn.
The story will center on Adam's character, who, in childhood, lost her parents to a brutal murder... one that was eventually pinned on her brother, after she testified against him in court. The movie will pick up when a full-grown Adams begins to have doubts about the verdict after a secret society of de facto investigators takes a look at her case, bent on proving that there is more than meets the eye.
From her attachment to this group, Adam's character's starts to question whether her brother may well have been wrongfully imprisoned and abandoned by his only remaining family member after suffering through the horrendous slaughter of his own parents.
[Photo Credit: David Edwards/Daily Celeb]
Emily Blunt Is Too Good to Keep Making Bad Movies
Kristen Stewart Leads Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams & More in On the Road Posters
Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst Play It Old School in On the Road — PICS
Good and bad news for members of the Kellan Lutz Six-Pack Appreciation Club: He'll play Tarzan in an upcoming movie, but it'll be via CGI motion capture.
Up-and-coming actress Spencer Locke (Resident Evil: Afterlife) is reportedly in talks to play the iconic character's wife, Jane, in the animated, as-yet-untitled film — to be written by Jessica Postigo, Yoni Brenner, and Reinhard Klooss, who is also directing.
In addition to a role in the upcoming Twilight Saga finale, Breaking Dawn - Part 2, Lutz has quite a bit in the works, including the crime drama Java Heat, alongside Mickey Rourke.
'Breaking Dawn - Part 2' Trailer Proves 'Twilight' Finale Could Top Them All
'A Warrior's Heart' Trailer: Kellan Lutz and Ashley Greene's Romance/War/Lacrosse Drama
Kellan Lutz Addresses Gay Rumors
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
TV’s favorite Martian, Ray Walston, died Monday in his Beverly Hills, Calif., home. He was 86.
Reuters is reporting that the actor died of natural causes after a short illness. Aside from starring as Uncle Martin on TV’s “My Favorite Martian,” Walston won a Tony Award for his performance as Mr. Applegate, the Devil, in the 1956 Broadway production of “Damn Yankees.” He re-created the role on film two years later.
Walston last appeared on TV in September during an episode of the CBS hit show “Touched by an Angel.”
GIBBONS AND BRENNER SUED: Daytime talker Leeza Gibbons and comedian David Brenner have been sued by Brenner’s former girlfriend.
Charisse Brody Weason alleges that Brenner made a derogatory comment about her ability to raise the teenage son she had with Brenner during the taping of “Leeza” on Dec. 7, 1999, The Associated Press reports.
The son has lived with Brenner for several years after a custody battle between the parents. Gibbons could not be reached for comment.
A SCAB NAMED BRADY: Is Greg Brady a scab? What would Johnny Bravo say?
Former “Brady Bunch” star Barry Williams is being labeled a scab by Actors Equity Union for taking a non-union job in the road production of “The Sound of Music,” Variety reports.
``I feel that I have been caught in the cross hairs of this dispute,'' said Williams, noting that he cannot accurately be called a ``scab'' since no one is on strike. ``I have been singled out by the union in a most aggressive and threatening way so that the union can reach the producers. And I am crying foul.''
The talks between the union and the Maryland-based producer Troika Entertainment fell apart. Troika decided to go with non-union actors, except for Williams, who accepted the part of Captain Von Trapp for $10,000 a week. Now Williams is up on ``internal union disciplinary'' charges that could preclude any future Equity work.
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 9, 2000 -- Film nominations for the 52nd Annual Writers Guild Awards were handed down today, and, with few exceptions, the list was surprise-free.
The usual award-show suspects, including Golden Globe screenplay champ "American Beauty," were honored for their excellence in screenplays.
The most notable surprise nod was perhaps for Lewis Colick's adaptation for the critically lauded (but mostly overlooked) "October Sky."
One notable snub came in the form of "The Hurricane," which last month took University of Southern California's annual Scripter Award for best film adaptation. While a fast-starter on the buzz front, the movie has come under attack of late for flying fast and loose with the story of wrongly imprisoned boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.
The guild's East and West Coast voting bodies decided upon nominees. Like the Academy Awards, award hopefuls are split into two categories -- there's one for best original screenplay, one for best adaptation.
The Guild's TV and radio nominations were previously announced. Winners in all categories will be announced March 5 in dual ceremonies at New York's Plaza Hotel and the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Here's a complete look at the WGA's screenplay nominees:
BEST SCREENPLAY WRITTEN DIRECTLY FOR THE SCREEN
"American Beauty" Written by Alan Ball. (DreamWorks Pictures)
"Being John Malkovich" Written by Charlie Kaufman. (USA Films)
"Magnolia" Written by Paul Thomas Anderson. (New Line Cinema)
"The Sixth Sense" Written by M. Night Shyamalan. (Buena Vista Pictures)
"Three Kings" Screenplay by David O. Russell; story by John Ridley. (Warner Bros.)
BEST SCREENPLAY BASED ON MATERIAL PREVIOUSLY PRODUCED OR PUBLISHED
"The Cider House Rules" Screenplay by John Irving, based on his novel. (Miramax Films)
"Election" Screenplay by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta. (Paramount Pictures)
"The Insider" Written by Eric Roth & Michael Mann, based on the article "The Man Who Knew Too Much" by Marie Brenner. (Buena Vista Pictures)
"October Sky" Screenplay by Lewis Colick, based on the book "Rocket Boys" by Homer H. Hickam Jr. (Universal Pictures)
"The Talented Mr. Ripley" Screenplay by Anthony Minghella, based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith. (Paramount Pictures and Miramax Films)