The Oscars just got a lot more lung power. Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have announced that legendary Goldfinger vocalist Dame Shirley Bassey will appear at the Academy Awards ceremony Feb. 24, as a part of a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film franchise that was first announced back in January. Adele had already been confirmed to sing the nominated title-song for Skyfall as part of the tribute, along with a montage honoring the series, and a rumored, though far from likely, on-stage reunion of some or all of the actors who’ve previously donned the tux as 007.
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“We are thrilled to welcome the legendary Dame Shirley Bassey to our Oscar show,” said Zadan and Meron. “Her association with film music is world renowned and we are proud that she will be making her first Oscar appearance on our telecast.”
It's not clear if Bassey will be singing or just presenting, but if she does sing, she joins an impressive roster of vocal talent at the 85-annual event, including Barbra Streisand, Norah Jones, and, of course, Adele. Other than Monty Norman, who created the strummy electric guitar riff that became the James Bond theme song, or John Barry, who composed most of the movie scores in the series, arguably no one has had a bigger impact on the sound of the 007 franchise than Shirley Bassey.
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Her renditions of "Goldfinger" — sorry, "Goooold-FINGAH!" — "Diamonds Are Forever," and "Moonraker," are the bullion standard of Bond movie theme songs. Her vocals, crisply enunciated and brassily powerhouse, are as much a part of Bond as vodka martinis and Aston Martins. It's hard to listen to Adele's recent recording of "Skyfall" and not hear a little bit of a Bassey imitation at work.
And the 76-year-old Welsh singer's still got it. Check out her performance of "Diamonds Are Forever" at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert this past June:
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[Photo Credit: WENN]
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In the late 19th century Dr. Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) a misunderstood monster hunter is summoned to Transylvania to ferret out Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) and kill him once and for all. When Van Helsing gets to the small village where the vampire was last spotted he discovers he also must contend with Dracula's three seriously twisted vampire brides Dracula's angry henchman/werewolf--and a lovely gypsy princess named Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale) who is hell-bent on eradicating Dracula and his bloodsucking kind for slaughtering her entire family. Oh and let's not forget Frankenstein's Monster (Shuler Hensley) who holds the key to Dracula's evil master plan--something about releasing his minions of unborn bat-like children from their goo-filled cocoons so they can wreck havoc on the world. Yuck. Sounds like our resident monster stomper and his sword-swinging gal pal have their work cut out for them. If Van Helsing does manage to kill all his monster foes does that mean he's out of a job?
Jackman has the whole antihero thing down pat. He adequately embodies the younger more virile Van Helsing dishing out as much pain and torture as he can on the undead--but the Aussie actor isn't given nearly as much meat to chew on as he did say delving into the complicated Wolverine in X-Men. Instead the monster hunter is relegated to carrying big weapons wearing a big hat and muttering something about having bad dreams to a past he can't remember. Same goes for Beckinsale. The British actress was oh-so-cool on the other side of the fence playing the chic vampire Selene in Underworld cutting her way through a myriad of werewolves. As Van Helsing's heavily accented female counterpart Anna however she just runs around with her sword blurting out such pathetic dialogue such as "Dracula took everything away from me and now I'm alone in the world" while Roxburgh's Dracula--who can't hold a candle to other far more charismatic Draculas before him--wails about being so very alone as his luscious brides hang upside down in front of him. Give me a break. At least Australian actor David Wenham (The Lord of the Rings) provides much-needed comic relief as Van Helsing's sidekick Carl a Catholic friar who doesn't much like playing hero.
With the requisite dark mood and tone action sequences and snazzy CGI-creations including the winged vampire brides and formidable werewolves you can see exactly where writer/director Stephen Sommers (The Mummy) spent Van Helsing's nearly $150 million budget. But even all the bells and whistles can't tie together the film's vacuous nonsensical mumbo jumbo as Sommers attempts to bring classic movie monsters together in the same movie. Maybe in a tongue-in-cheek Abbott and Costello movie it could work but as a serious action-packed thriller clearly Dracula Frankenstein and the Wolf Man do not need to meet. On top of that Sommers steals from other movies as well such as recent films Underworld (the whole vampire vs. werewolf conflict) and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman (Van Helsing defeats a rather familiar-looking Mr. Hyde at one point). Whatever originality there is in the film leaves you either scratching your head--Dracula has kids?--or rolling your eyes--Anna needs to kill Dracula so her nine-generations of family can reunite in Heaven? Please.
Maid in Manhattan is yet another take on the Cinderella story. There are very few surprises but the film is still somewhat enjoyable despite its predictable setup. Cinderella aka Marisa Ventura (Jennifer Lopez) is a hardworking no-nonsense single mom who loves her son Ty (Tyler Posey) and dreams of breaking out of her job as a maid at a five-star hotel in Manhattan. Her Fairy Godmother aka co-worker Stephanie (Marissa Matrone) unwittingly gives her that chance when she convinces Marisa to try on some expensive clothes left in a suite by the Evil Stepsister aka spoiled socialite Caroline Lane (Natasha Richardson) while they're cleaning. In walks Prince Charming aka Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes) an incredibly handsome U.S. senator candidate and the city's most eligible bachelor and Boom! sparks fly. Chris thinks Marisa is the expensive suite's occupant--and she's too overwhelmed by the domino effect that happens to tell him different. Ah what a tangled web love at first sight can weave. Marisa spends the rest of the movie trying to cover up her error in judgment while also becoming increasingly drawn to her prince. Will he find out who she really is? Of course. Will it matter in the end? Of course not.
This may have been created as another vehicle to help further propel the career of actress/singer/designer/fiancee to Ben Affleck J. Lo but unexpectedly someone else comes out of the film looking better--Fiennes. It's little hard even for Jenny on the Block to outshine an Oscar-nominated actor. He elevates the formulaic subject matter and portrays a pretty down-to-earth Prince Charming without us ever seeing a forced move. I'm curious as to why such a high-caliber actor would choose such a run-of-the-mill project like this but whatever the reason he makes it work--at least for his part. Lopez doesn't do anything out of the ordinary. In fact it looks like she may have simply cloned the same expressions she put on in her other successful romantic comedy The Wedding Planner. And unfortunately Lopez and Fiennes don't share the same kind of heat she shared in that film with Matthew McConaughey or even George Clooney in Out of Sight (still her best performance to date). Yet they manage to convey a fair amount of good feelings to make the movie palatable. Richardson has a blast playing the rich bitch Caroline while Matrone making her film debut just comes off as annoying and pushy even if she thinks she's doing the right thing. Thank goodness she is because if things had turned out badly it would be in Marisa's best interest to go out and shoot her. Stanley Tucci as Christopher's watchdog campaign manager and Bob Hoskins as a senior-level butler at the hotel both do the best they can with silly parts.
Maid in Manhattan relies so heavily on the been-there-done-that Cinderella formula it becomes one of those romantic comedies you'll end up waiting to watch on cable one Saturday night rather than paying to see in a movie theater. It's really a shame because director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) had some interesting elements to play with and lots of acting talent to back it up. Perhaps Lopez could have played Marisa more wacky than so serious maybe try to show some comic ability. It would be a nice change of pace to think out of the box for once--what if the lovestruck pair didn't get together in the end? (I know the film would have fallen flat on its face.) But instead Maid wallows in predictability and implausibility. Christopher falls a little too hard and a little too fast for reality. Also it's hard to believe a maid would have access to all the hotel's amenities as Marisa does--borrowing a Harry Winston diamond necklace from the hotel jewelry store for the gala event? Unlikely to say the least. The only aspect of the film that stands out is the sneak peek you get into the inner workings of a top-notch hotel. It's definitely a world you don't get to see very often.
December 02, 2001 10:20am EST
Amélie swept the 14th European Film Awards in Berlin on Saturday, Reuters reports. The French romantic comedy won the best film category and also won the prize for best cinematographer, while Jean-Pierre Jeunet took home the best director award and was voted best director in the people's choice award. The film is an inventive comedy about a young Paris waitress who discreetly orchestrates the lives of the people around her, creating a world exclusively of her own making. Isabelle Huppert won best actress for her role as a piano teacher in The Piano Teacher and Ben Kingsley was given the best actor award for his role in the British gangster movie Sexy Beast. The European Film Awards are aimed at boosting the profile of European cinema.
Also at Saturday's European Film Awards, the Monty Python team was honored with a special lifetime achievement award. Terry Gilliam accepted the honor along with Terry Jones, who directed the 1979 comedy Life of Brian, the BBC reports. Former Beatle George Harrison financed the controversial film when no one else would.
Tom Cruise dropped a $100 million defamation lawsuit on Saturday against Bold magazine after the publisher stated he did not have a videotape of the actor having sex with another man, The Associated Press reports. Michael Davis was accused of sending out news releases to at least a dozen U.S. media organizations alleging that Cruise engaged in a homosexual relationship while he was married to Nicole Kidman.
Former Baywatch star Yasmine Bleeth pleaded guilty on Friday to two cocaine-related charges in Detroit. According to PageSix.com, Bleeth pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while impaired and to a cocaine possession charge, avoiding a possible four-year prison term. Bleeth and her boyfriend Paul Cerrito were traveling through Romulus, Michigan on Sept. 12 when her car swerved into a traffic median. Police found about four grams of cocaine in her purse, car and hotel room.
Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen has reportedly dumped her fiancé Leonardo DiCaprio, Sky News reports. Bundchen apparently gave her diamond ring back after she arranged to work in Los Angeles in order to spend time with the Titanic star--only to find out he had gone off to Las Vegas with friends to watch the Lennox Lewis fight.
At his sold-out concert in Manchester, N.H., on Friday, Elton John announced that his latest album, Songs From the West Coast, would be his last. John told the audience that that he hated the record industry and that after 40 albums, it was time for him to get out, Reuters reports.
J.R.R. Tolkien's heirs are split over the filming The Lord of the Rings classic saga, Reuters reports. British papers reported on Sunday that Christopher Tolkien, the author's eldest son and literary executor of the Tolkien estate, is refusing to speak to his own son Simon because of a dispute over the film. While Simon suggested the film was a good idea, Christopher reportedly declined to help the filmmakers. J.R.R. Tolkien sold the film rights to The Lord of the Rings for 10,000 pounds in 1968, five years before his death.
Britney Spears has signed on to appear in the upcoming Austin Powers film, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Variety reports. Spears will play herself in the film, which is tentatively set for a July 2002 release date.
Danny DeVito has replaced Gregg Mottola as director of the comedy Duplex starring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore. Miramax described Mottola's departure from the project earlier this month as "a mutual and amicable decision," Variety reports. The film, about a New York couple who murders an old women to move into her coveted apartment, goes into production in January.
Rob Schneider will star in the DreamWorks comedy Harv the Barbarian. According to Variety, the comedy is described as a sardonic, Monty Python-esque tale of a barbarian on a voyage to self-discovery. Shooting on the film is set to begin next June.
Penelope Cruz is the latest actress to be immortalized in wax at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in London. The waxwork of the actress, wearing a sparkling, floor-length, blue dress with a plunging neckline, was created due to an overwhelming demand, Sky News reports.
Rosie O'Donnell will host a Dec. 30 fundraiser for democratic gubernatorial candidate Janet Reno in Florida, AP reports. The location of the event is not yet known. O'Donnell owns a home on Miami Beach's Star Island but said that house is in use and could not be used as a venue.
Clint Eastwood has been appointed to California's State Park and Recreation Commission, AP reports. Eastwood, who has long been an activist for environmental issues, also owns a golf course and served as mayor of Carmel from 1986 to 1988.
The rumor swirling around London right now is that Nicole Kidman will be getting naked and steamy in the new video of her duet with singer Robbie Williams called "Somethin' Stupid."
London tabloid newspapers were trying Tuesday to get details about the top-secret video, which was filmed behind closed doors at a west London studio. However, execs at EMI, which is releasing the video and single next month, are keeping their mouths shut.
"I can confirm that they finished filming the video at the end of last week," a spokesman for Williams told Reuters on Tuesday. "We are not revealing any details."
Some of the tabloids have already released their own stories.
The Daily Star reported, "The Hollywood beauty is left wearing just a diamond necklace--and clutching a diamond purse--in the steamy promo." While The Mirror gave a much more sedate report, stating, "Nicole wore a mauve lace Collette Dinnigan evening dress with green sequins, flown in from Australia especially for the shoot ... topped off with a 5.5 million pound necklace."
Kidman dripping with diamonds isn't hard to imagine. She has already proven she is not shy about baring it all, having appeared in the nude in the London stage production of The Blue Room directed by Sam Mendes a few years ago.
Regardless of whether the rumors are true or not, everyone will have to wait until November when the video is released to get the "full monty."