A museum honouring the careers and popular culture contributions of musicians Jimi Hendrix and Marvin Gaye is set to be built in Nashville, Tennessee. Construction on the National Museum of African American Music is scheduled to begin next year (15) and the project will also feature works from local artists including Frank Howard, Jimmy Church and Marion James.
Development plans began in 2000 and planners are now close to the budgetary goal of $25 million (£15.6 million) and are eager to move forward with the construction.
Mayor Karl Dean says, "I believe there is strong interest and demand for this type of museum, and the planned location (the old Nashville Convention Center) is in a vibrant section of our downtown."
For decades, the film industry has lived by a secret maxim: if you want an emotional scene to land, stick in an Elton John song. The British singer/songwriter has long served as a benefactor to the Hollywood cause, contributing heartending ballads and invigorating anthems to the likes the Rocky and Lethal Weapon franchies, Almost Famous, Moulin Rouge!, and The Lion King. In the ultimate return of the favor, Rocket Pictures is a developing a biopic about John, which Deadline reports will, quite appropriately, take the form of a musical comprised of the icon's own songs.
The picture, titled Rocketman, has tacked on Michael Gracey to direct. Gracey should bring sufficient flare to the biopic — he's worked as a commercial director and visual effects artist on horror movies like Double Vision and Cubbyhouse, and the Heath Ledger-starring drama Ned Kelly. Rocketman will tell the story of Sir Elton John's life and career, starting from his embrace of music at age five, using his timeless hits to document some of the greater episodes throughout the journey.
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We can begin to imagine how this sort of project will manifest: with "Candle in the Wind," "Tiny Dancer," and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" backing the illustrations emotionally resonant turning points in his life. But we're thinking outside the box, here. Which Elton John songs will be woven into some of the less "inspiring" scenes in the movie?
"Flintstone Boy" (the forgettable bonus track on the'98 reissue of John's A Single Man)Scene: Before acquiring his knack for the ivories, a young Elton spends most of his time watching Hanna Barbera cartoons as this song plays in the background.
"All Quiet on the Western Front" (the closing track of John's '82 album Jump Up!)Scene: Being a musical prodigy is hard, but what's harder? High school book reports. The song chronicles a teenage Elton's frustration with Erich Maria Remarque's dry narration in his World War I seminal classic.
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"Between Seventeen and Twenty" (from John's '76 album Blue Movies)Scene: As biography films are wont to do, Rocketman will include a time-skipping montage, bumping Elton from his teen years to his early twenties for the sake of speedy narration. This applicably titled number accompanies the jump.
"January" (from John's '97 album The Big Picture) / "August October" (John's cover of the 1970 song by Robin Gibb)Scene: The songs, played simulatenously through this climactic scene, help to showcase that one time when an overtired Elton got really hazy and totally blanked on what month it was.
"Nikita" (from John's '85 alcum Ice on Fire)Scene: Paired with a later scene in the film, this number will depict Elton's deep, abiding love for CW dramas.
"The Last Song" (from John's '92 album The One)Scene: End credits.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
[Photo Credit: Ron Howard/Getty Images]
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The I Am Legend star pulled out of negotiations in April (10) after months of discussions with Crowe, and the filmmaker was forced to start his search for a leading man all over again.
Crash actor Howard has now put himself forward to take on the project - but admits he's hesitant about taking on such an iconic role.
He tells Deadline.com, "Nothing's been signed on paper yet. Everybody who loves music will hate me if I get this one wrong."
Crowe has been trying to get the project off the ground for four years.
Ali the story of boxing champion Muhammad Ali (née Cassius Clay) wants its audience to care about Ali's drive to be the champ his yearning for racial equality his strong Muslim faith and even his failings--as husband friend human being. Unfortunately the film's early scenes don't really give the audience much insight into Ali the person; instead the movie assumes we'll all be on board with Ali's greatness and all the filmmakers have to do is put it in context for us. That context is an ugly place--1960s America--definitely not the place to be if you're a black sports champion Malcolm X's close friend and a vocal civil rights activist yourself. Once you get to know this Ali it's easy to care about him--he's charming if self-absorbed and firm in his convictions--but unfortunately the first hour of the film plods along very slowly meandering through Cassius Clay's days in Miami before he won the title and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. In the first hour Ali's fight with Sonny Liston doesn't matter. During the last two hours of the film (yes that's right three hours in all) it finally starts to matter whether or not Ali gets drafted and whether or not he beats George Foreman in Zaire. What matters the most though is whether or not you've got enough soda to get through what is shaping up to be a very dull evening.
Will Smith's performance gives a bit of light to an otherwise disappointing film. Not since Six Degrees of Separation have Smith fans been given the opportunity to see him shine in a dramatic role and despite the movie's meandering it was worth the wait. Smith's Ali gives the film focus when it seems to lose itself and his performance is powerful if a bit lopsided at times. Mario Van Peebles is no Denzel but his Malcolm X is certainly passable and the henchmen of Elijah Muhammad who shadow Ali everywhere are just creepy enough to seem the villains in a film that doesn't really have any--at least not any that are characters. Jada Pinkett Smith newcomer Nona Gaye (Marvin Gaye's daughter) and Michael Michele all give brief but memorable performances as Ali's first three wives (he does like the ladies). But the supporting prize in what would otherwise be a one-man show must without doubt go to Jon Voight whose Howard Cosell is classic stuff and whose chemistry with Smith makes for the best scenes in the film. Jamie Foxx as Ali's "inspiration" Drew "Bundini" Brown basically sits in the champ's corner and cheers him on. Foxx gets a few laughs in when his character is sober but when his addiction to drugs and alcohol turns sour so does Foxx's performance.
Michael Mann who successfully tackled the death-dealing tobacco industry and the politics of journalism in The Insider brings that same dark sensibility to Ali. But the weighty subject matter of race and religion even when presented through the eyes of a boxer may have been too much meat for what is ultimately a sports story. The movie's explorations of civil rights and religion come across as pretentious rather than sincere the script clunks along and the dialogue is often forced. The words Ali spoke in real life are the only ones in the film that actually seem real (and if you've ever heard him speak you'll know that that is a very odd thing). The boxing matches though beautifully choreographed seem to go on forever; they're probably half the reason the movie lasts as long as it does. Fortunately gone are the wide angles of weekend satellite sports coverage--this is high art. Ali's boxing matches are a mix of slow-mo quick camera work tight shots of flesh being punched into oblivion and dramatic lighting. There are even times when Ali ever filmed as light on his feet actually does appear through tricks of the camera to "float like a butterfly."