Anna Nicole Smith's final movie, Illegal Aliens, will premiere at the Cannes Film Market next month.
The sci-fi spoof, directed by David Giancola, will be released on DVD in America on May 1, but producer Scott Jones insisted on making a big splash in Europe because that's what Smith, who died in February, would have liked.
He says, "Everyone knows Anna would have loved to have the world premiere at Cannes. It is a market fitting for her and this film."
Smith not only starred in the film, she invested in it and co-produced it with her late son Daniel.
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September 19, 2006 11:51am EST
Anna Nicole Smith's tragic son Daniel had been in and out of the hospital in the weeks leading up to his death on Sept. 10.
The 20-year-old movie producer was found slumped in a chair in his mother's Bahamian hospital room just three days after the birth of his half-sister. Initial autopsy reports have failed to find a cause of death.
But, after forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht declared yesterday that Daniel was taking prescription anti-depression medication when he died, the youngster's movie partner has revealed he had been very ill.
David Giancola, the director of Smith's new movie Illegal Aliens--which was produced by her son--tells In Touch magazine that Smith had been in intensive care for an elevated heart rate.
He says, "He was in the hospital for two or three days. He was really sick. He lost something like 28 pounds and had a constant stomach ache."
According to Giancola, Daniel seemed to have recovered but was still not fully fit when he flew to the Bahamas to be with his mother after she gave birth on Sept. 7.
It has been suggested that Smith had been prescribed anti-depression medication after splitting up with his girlfriend.
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Former wrestler Joanie Laurer has spoken out about her concerns for pal Anna Nicole Smith's late son Daniel, after he appeared to be too serious on the set of new movie Illegal Aliens.
The 20-year-old, who collapsed and died in the Bahamas on Sunday, was a producer on the independent comedy, and left cast and crew perplexed with his moody persona.
In an exclusive interview with CNN newsman Larry King on Tuesday, Laurer said, "He had a very quiet demeanor and I'm the type of person... who is trying to get everybody revved up.
"We were doing a movie and it's very exciting and he's a producer and so I'd go up and jab him a little and try him to joke and get him to laugh but it seemed to be not as exciting (to him) as I perhaps thought somebody should be.
"I really liked Anna and I wanted her and all of us to have as good of a time as we most possibly could."
Director David Giancola admits, "He was very quiet."
The film, which stars soap hunk John James, is seeking a distributor and is scheduled to be released later this year.
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Anna Nicole Smith pulled out of her own movie premiere in New York on Wednesday over security fears.
The actress/model was shaken up by photographers and reporters, who crowded her when she arrived at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, and she feared a repeat at the launch of her new film.
As a result, Smith was a no-show at the premiere for Illegal Aliens, which she stars in and helped fund.
Director David Giancola explained, "On the Supreme Court steps she was so crushed by media, they were very intimidating."
Meanwhile, the actress' mental state has been questioned again in America after she appeared for one TV interview to promote her new film wearing just her underwear--and slurring her answers.
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At least Bewitched has the smarts to reinvent itself contemporizing rather than going for a straight remake. First we meet Isabel (Nicole Kidman) a naïve good-natured witch who wants to give up her supernatural powers to lead a "normal" life--much to the chagrin of her warlock father Nigel (Michael Caine). He doesn't believe she can do it. Neither do we. Then on the other side of town we meet Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell) a nearly washed-up actor who's done one too many bad films. To get back on track he decides to do an updated version of the beloved 1960s sitcom Bewitched. As the mere-mortal Darrin Wyatt would be the star of the show not the actress cast as Samantha. In order for that to happen a nobody must play the witch. Lo and behold Jack runs into Isabel who can manipulate her dainty nose in just the right wriggle. He persuades her to take the part while she sees Jack as the quintessential mortal man with whom she can settle down and lead the normal life she so desires. Think it'll work out? (Cue the Bewitched theme song).
We all know Kidman can play complicated and romantic and Ferrell can do comedy. But in Bewitched they each try to do something beyond those skill sets. Unfortunately they can't quite pull it off. Kidman of course is a consummate actress. She can take on just about any character and make it her own including the slightly ditzy eternally cute Isabel. And so she taps into her inner witch once again (like she did in Practical Magic). But trying to remake comedies (like The Stepford Wives) especially something as balls-out as Bewitched doesn't really suit the Oscar winner all that well. And in Ferrell's case he hilariously handles all of Bewitched's improvisational comedic moments as expected. But watching him try to be a romantic leading man is a bit cringe-worthy. I mean if you can make smooching on Nicole Kidman look uncomfortable you certainly aren't doing the job. As far as the rest of the cast everyone is pretty much wasted in one form or another. Caine as Isabel's debonair roué of a father and Shirley MacLaine as the diva-esque actress who plays Bewitched's wonderful Endora have a couple of bright moments but don't get nearly enough to do. The same goes for Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore) as Jack's unctuous agent and Kristin Chenoweth (from the Broadway musical Wicked) as Isabel's spirited neighbor. Even Steve Carrell (TV's The Office) as the irascible Uncle Arthur can't offer the right spontaneity. What a shame.
One of Bewitched's saving graces however is writer-director Nora Ephron. She knows romantic comedies having helmed such hits as Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail as well as writing the quintessential romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally…. Bewitched is right up her alley and she fluffs it up like a pro. Yet overall the film is just too darn silly for its own good. Maybe Bewitched suffers from the whole TV-turned-film phenomena in general. The idea of taking such classic TV favorites and adapting them into feature films continues to prove there isn't a shred of originality left in the studio system. But sometimes the concept works (Starsky & Hutch is one that comes to mind). Fans like me are curious as to how filmmakers will rework the material and are especially interested in who they decide to cast to play those beloved icons. We end up giving each one of these big-screen treatment iterations a chance--and are usually disappointed. Bewitched is no exception. Besides being only mildly entertaining to diehard fans Bewitched's inside jokes will most likely go over the heads of those who can't tell Samantha Darrin Endora Aunt Clara Uncle Arthur or Mrs. Kravitz from the characters on I Dream of Jeannie. Probably best just to own the sitcom's DVD collection instead.
A promising young playwright Sidda Lee Walker (Sandra Bullock) lives in New York far enough away from her Louisiana hometown. After she gives a damaging interview to Time magazine--damaging mainly to her mother Vivianne Abbott Walker (Ellen Burstyn) who doesn't take lightly to her daughter's intonations that she was not a good mother--the two women begin a feud. It threatens to destroy not only their relationship but Sidda's own plans to marry her longtime boyfriend Connor (Angus MacFadyen). Enter the Ya-Ya Sisterhood--Caro (Maggie Smith) Teensy (Fionnula Flanagan) and Necie (Shirley Knight) Vivi's lifelong best friends. To bring mother and daughter back together the women decide it's time for Sidda to learn about the Divine Secrets of their little clique--and about her mother's painful past. They tell Sidda stories about the young Vivi (Ashley Judd) who was full of promise and hope but how certain tragic events damaged her. The bond between these four older women is unshakable and the most honest element to the film. The sad news for the novel's fans however is that while the script manages to convey the true spirit of friendship it can't quite capture the magic of the book.
In a cast of many the film is chock-full of wonderful performances but it's the matured Ya-Yas who steal the show. Smith plays the tough Caro a lifelong smoker now saddled with emphysema with all the biting wit the actress is best known for while Knight plays the sweet no-nonsense Necie with just a hint of sarcasm. Flanagan the best of the three shines as the wealthy Teensy a recovering alcoholic who has faced demons herself. Her exchanges are some of the more memorable especially when after being told by an angry Vivi that she could knock Teensy into next week Teensy tells her friend "And I'll kick your ass on Thursday." Yet the film truly belongs to Burstyn and Judd as the different faces of Vivi. Burstyn is all at once the highly dramatic Southern beauty who has come to terms with (or remained steeped in denial about however you look at it) her painful past while Judd gets to show us the nitty-gritty of what actually happened to Vivi to harden her. Unfortunately the weakest member of this ensemble cast is Bullock as Sidda. She never quite convinces us she grew up in such an eccentric and terribly Southern environment. And not to leave out the men completely--James Garner plays Sidda's father Shep with quiet patience having survived life with his lady love who never loved him quite the same in return. The devoted Connor mirrors Shep but MacFadyen plays him with a lot more backbone.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise) couldn't have chosen a better film to make as her directorial debut. Sure she might be pigeonholed forever as the "chick flick" girl but she probably doesn't care much. Khouri had been approached to adapt Wells' novel a few times over the last couple of years but never had the time to do it. When the right time came along Khouri wisely decided it was also time to take on the directing chores. Even as a novice the writer/director shows us she knows her way around a camera. The film captures that Southern feel lush and languid as the moss drips down from the trees. She also knows how to handle her actors too and is able to elicit great performances (although with the likes of Burstyn and Smith this isn't hard to do). The soundtrack also is an added bonus with a variation of music from jazz to Louisiana Cajun. Yet even with all this going for it Divine Secrets misses a beat. In a novel it's great to read stories about an eccentric Southern family but to have vignettes told to you as a framework for a movie it can slow a film down. You probably won't be able to drag your husband to go see this one.