Emma Thompson sealed her place as a star of the New York stage by making her debut in a concert version of Sweeney Todd on Wednesday night (05Mar14). The British actress plays notorious pie-maker Mrs. Lovett in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra's version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, which opened at Avery Fisher Hall in Manhattan on Wednesday.
Thompson appears opposite Welsh opera star Bryn Terfel in the title role, and she has won over the critics with her performance.
The New York Daily News' theatre reviewer Joe Dziemianowicz insists Thompson "stole the show" and praises her "robust singing voice" and "plenty of comic chops".
Roger Friedman of Showbiz411.com also hails Thompson's star turn, writing, "I'd have paid double last night and would pay it again to see Emma Thompson... Thompson lets loose as crazy, happy, lovelorn pie baking Mrs. Lovett. If only Thompson would come to Broadway in this! She wouldn't need to campaign to get a Tony Award."
The show's opening night also featured an uncredited surprise appearance from actress/singer Audra McDonald, and garnered a star-studded audience, with attendees including Meryl Streep, Neil Patrick Harris and Sweeney Todd's composer Stephen Sondheim, who was brought up onto the stage to take a bow during the curtain call.
The production runs until Saturday (08Mar14) and will be broadcast on America's PBS network at a later date.
Sir Elton John appears to have mended his rift with Lady Gaga as they were spotted having dinner together in Los Angeles on Monday night (23Sep13). The Rocket Man recently accused the singer, who is godmother to his two sons, of avoiding him and refusing to take his calls, voicing his fears for her wellbeing as he hadn't spoken to her in such a long time.
However, they now appear to have put their problems behind them after they were spotted dining together this week (beg23Sep13).
The two stars enjoyed a meal at Craig's restaurant in West Hollywood with Sir Elton's partner David Furnish, and Hollywood actor Johnny Depp.
The dinner was held to celebrate the release of Sir Elton's latest album, The Diving Board, according to Showbiz411.com's Roger Friedman, who claims Gaga told him, "You know, we (Johnny Depp and I) went to the listening party (for The Diving Board). I know you think we're just a pop star and an actor but we did get invited."
Her boyfriend of almost three years, Roger Mathews, proposed during a skydiving session.
She tells In Touch magazine, "I look over and see a hand-written sign: 'Jenni, will you...' and then I turned to him and freaked out.
"The whole time I'm screaming, 'What are you doing? What's going on?' He's like, 'I want to spend the rest of my life with you! Will you allow me to?'"
And Farley admits she didn't have to think too long: "If I had to imagine a perfect guy, it would be him... Roger's not an average-looking guy, he's huge... So I always said, 'I want my ring like you - big!'"
Once on the ground, Mathews presented his bride-to-be with a five-carat, cushion-cut diamond engagement ring he created with jeweller Layna Friedman.
In her new piece, investigative journalist Maureen Orth claims the actress was vetted by Church officials as a potential girlfriend for the movie star in 2004.
Orth alleges Boniadi was punished by church leaders when she breached confidentiality agreements and turned to friends for support when the relationship fell flat.
Scientology representatives have been quick to dismiss the article, but Haggis, who 'resigned' from the Church in 2009, has written to Showbiz411.com's Roger Friedman to back up the Vanity Fair story and defend his friend.
He writes, "I’m appalled that any church would treat its parishioners this way, but Naz has never cast herself as a victim. She is strong and resilient and I am very proud to call her a friend.
"Naz was embarrassed by her unwitting involvement in this incident and never wanted it to come out, so I kept silent.
"The last thing she wanted or needed is this kind of publicity, but here it is, and I am sure she will deal with it with the same grace and dignity she exudes in her daily life."
Haggis also reveals in his email that Boniadi "quietly and privately resigned from the church a couple of years ago after several years of trying to handle this injustice internally, to no avail."
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
Mike Nichols directs the play, in which 44-year-old Hoffman portrays tragic salesman Willy Loman, with Andrew Garfield making his New York stage debut as his older son, Biff.
The show opened at Manhattan's Ethel Barrymore Theater on Thursday night (15Mar12), attracting a star-studded crowd including Hollywood actresses Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Anjelica Huston, Julianna Margulies and Garfield's girlfriend and The Amazing Spider-Man co-star Emma Stone.
But while the performance was warmly received by the audience, critics have been split by the production.
The New York Post's reviewer Elisabeth Vincentelli questions Hoffman's suitability, playing a character 16 years his senior, and writes: "Hoffman faces a big problem in that he's 44 to Willy's 60. It's hard to buy him not only as a man nearing retirement age, but as the father of two grown sons."
She also brands Garfield's performance "twitchy".
The Los Angeles Times' critic laments Hoffman's acting is "just a bit too monochromatic", adding, "There's fury and intelligence but not enough variety to the palette."
In contrast, Roger Friedman of Forbes.com celebrates the revival as "outstanding" and Hoffman and Garfield's performances as "stunning", while the New York Daily News' Joe Dziemianowicz insists the production is "powerful and emotionally rich".
He describes Hoffman as an "expert at expressing Willy's soul-crushing sadness", and also has kind words for The Social Network star Garfield: "(He) makes an impressive New York stage debut as Biff. Besides nailing a Brooklyn accent, he squeezes out every drop of poignancy as the conflicted and lost Loman son."
Death of a Salesman runs until 2 June (12).
The Twilight star will direct her own screenplay The Originals, according to Showbiz 411's Roger Friedman.
Howard calls the project, "a Breakfast Club for my generation".
Zoe Saldana will reportedly star in the film.
The Raging Bull filmmaker is set to bring Ol' Blue Eyes' life story to the big screen in forthcoming film Sinatra - and DiCaprio, who has been Scorsese's leading man four times to date, was rumoured to be stepping into the My Way singer's shoes.
But the Titanic hunk is baffled by the reports - because he has not been approached to star in the film.
He tells New York Magazine, "There are no plans to do that (portray Sinatra) as of yet."
Scorsese admits the movie has been stalled as screenwriters work on the script, but he insists whoever ends up playing the Rat Pack legend on the big screen will not be showing off their vocal talents - because the singer's hits are classics.
The director tells the Hollywood Reporter's columnist Roger Friedman, "With those records, Frank will do the singing. But we're waiting for a finished script."
Sinatra is expected to hit movie theatres in 2011.
Leonardo DiCaprio has distanced himself from reports that he's set to portray Frank Sinatra in director Martin Scorsese's upcoming biopic of the late entertainer.
The Raging Bull filmmaker is set to bring Ol' Blue Eyes' life story to the big screen in forthcoming film Sinatra -- and DiCaprio, who has been Scorsese's leading man four times to date, was rumored to be stepping into the "My Way" singer's shoes.
But the Titanic hunk is baffled by the reports -- because he has not been approached to star in the film.
He tells New York Magazine, "There are no plans to do that (portray Sinatra) as of yet."
Scorsese admits the movie has been stalled as screenwriters work on the script, but he insists that whoever ends up playing the Rat Pack legend on the big screen will not be showing off their vocal talents -- because the singer's hits are classics.
The director tells The Hollywood Reporter's columnist Roger Friedman, "With those records, Frank will do the singing. But we're waiting for a finished script."
Sinatra is expected to hit movie theaters in 2011.
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