The standard biopic plotline based on the life story of Carl Brashear follows the uneducated sharecropper's son (Gooding) as he braves 1950s-era racial discrimination for the right to risk his life in one of the most dangerous occupations in the armed services. At the Navy's elite salvage school in New Jersey master diver Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro) gives Brashear the "Officer and a Gentleman" treatment singling him out for special punishment at the request of the base's insane racist commander (Hal Holbrook). Will the hero overcome the obstacles in his path to becoming a master diver himself?
Gooding's glowing likability is the main factor keeping the film's saintly conception of Brashear from getting annoying fast. The one-dimensional character lacks a single flaw for an actor to grab onto but Gooding's enthusiasm is contagious (remember that Oscar speech?) and he gets surprising mileage out of it. De Niro's trademark intensity is put to only minimal use in a variation of the cantankerous drill sergeant part familiar from half the military flicks ever made.
George Tillman Jr. ("Soul Food") delivers some effective if obvious action-drama in the film's first half which chronicles Brashear's tireless efforts to earn his Navy flippers. Unfortunately Scott Marshall Smith's screenplay gets a bit water-logged dealing with the hero's subsequent career both above and below the waves. (One key development closely parallels John Wayne's role as a Navy flier in another true story 1957's "The Wings of Eagles.) All this sets up a particularly weak courtroom finale reminiscent of another slew of movies including "A Few Good Men" and "Rules of Engagement."
Mariah Carey has booked a guest appearance on Fox's Ally McBeal on Jan. 7. In the episode, Carey will play a key figure in a lawsuit brought by (Jami Gertz's) Kimmy Bishop after she is given a refund by a matchmaking service and deemed unmatchable. Carey also will be featured warbling "Lead the Way" from her new album, "Glitter."
The movie memorabilia-themed restaurant Planet Hollywood filed for bankruptcy on Friday due to a drop in tourist business after Sept. 11. Planet's chief executive Robert Earl tells Reuters the Orlando-Florida based restaurant chain owes $133 million in debt against $121 in assets. Planet Hollywood, once valued at $3.5 billion on the day of its 1996 opening day, is struggling to find customers to fill its restaurants.
An Italian court has cleared Tenor Luciano Pavarotti of tax evasion charges, throwing out a state claim for up to $18 million, BBC News reports. Prosecutors argued that Pavarotti claimed to be a resident of the Italian town Modena, not Monaco, as claimed in his tax return between 1989 and 1995. In his defense, his lawyers said the tenor only visited Italy a few days each year to see friends and for the holidays. Otherwise, he lived "179 days a year" in the United States.
How's "Survivor" surviving? Not so well, apparently. The CBS reality show Survivor: Africa came in second to NBC's Friends last Thursday for the second week in a row. According to Nielsen ratings, Survivor has dipped its lowest levels since its June 2000 debut, having declined by 18 percent in total viewers (19.59 million vs. 23.84 million) and by 24 percent in adults (7.9 rating, 20 share vs. 10.4/23) from its premiere a week ago. . Friends was down 18 percent week-to-week in adults 18-24 to a season-low 12.2/32, but that's still 4 percent ahead of its fourth episode last season.
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, will stop making TV programs about royalty following controversy over his production company's filming of Prince William, BBC News reports. Adrent Productions has been criticized for not adhering to an agreement for all media not to intrude into William's life at St. Andrews University in Edinburgh, where he has just begin his first term.
Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins will star in The Human Stain, based on a Philip Roth novel set against the backdrop of the 1998 Clinton impeachment scandal, Reuters reports. Robert Benton is set to direct the film, which is expected to begin shooting in March.
The Runner, an ambitious reality show developed by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, has been put on hold until next season due to concerns over the national mood, Reuters reports. The series, previously set to premiere on Jan. 7, is a cat-and-mouse game in which pre-selected "agents" pursue "runners" cross-country According to ABC, security issues and concern about the show's arose after the Sept. 11 attacks. No word yet on what ABC will do with the 9 p.m. Monday slot come January.
Producers Harry Thomason, his wife Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and filmmaker Adam Friedman are set to begin filming a theatrical documentary based on the Joe Conason and Gene Lyons book The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Hunting will document the efforts to discredit the couple from the time of Bill Clinton's governorship in Arkansas through his 1998 presidential impeachment trial. Production is scheduled to start during the next few weeks.
With the balloting for the Screen Actors Guild presidential and more than 40 offices up for election ending in Oct. 31, candidates can now send email messages to the 30,000 or so union members who have email adresses, Reuters reported. For 8 cents per message, the emails supposedly contain harsh criticism on the presidential race between Melissa Gilbert and Valerie Harper, who are seeking to replace the current SAG president William Daniels, who will not be running for a second two-year term.
Bad-ass Kid Rock is looking for a few fans to appear in his new video "Forever," the first off his Nov. 20 release Cocky. According to an Atlantic Records spokesperson, the Wayne Isham-directed video will be shot on Oct. 26 and 27 in Detroit, Mich. Details will be announced soon through local radio stations and Kid Rock's official Web site.
Ricky Martin is still livin' la vida loca.
The Grammy-winning Latin heartthrob's new single "She Bangs" is on airwaves everywhere, and the video, featuring, of course, a very sexy Martin being groped repeatedly by numerous female admirers as he shakes his now-famous bon-bon, had its world premiere recently on MTV's "Total Request Live."
The video, shot by director Wayne Isham, debuted on "TRL" on Thursday at No. 5.
A representative for Martin told MTV News that Martin's new album will arrive in stores Nov. 14 and is titled "Sound Loaded".
"Sound Loaded" is Martin's first album since his self-titled release in May 1999. "Ricky Martin" has sold more than 7 million copies and spawned the hits "Livin' La Vida Loca," "Shake Your Bon-Bon" and "She's All I Ever Had."
Let's hear it for the old guy who in this movie comes off sexier than his buff young accomplice (Dermot Mulroney). OK the old guy happens to be the gracefully aging icon Paul Newman -- as a feisty heistmeister who dodges a long prison sentence and then teams up with his equally conniving rest-home nurse (Linda Fiorentino) on a bank job gone wrong. "Where the Money Is" is breezy suspenseful and as much a love story as anything else -- if you call mentoring a new life in crime a kind of love. The mission-improbable caper is no more or less entertaining than a "Rockford Files" rerun but the film's swerving joyride takes its real thrills from the great escape that Fiorentino's Bonnie Parker makes from a dead-end life in the married lane.
Newman still hasn't lost it and as Henry Manning he doesn't miss any nuances in the edgy balance between streetwise wariness and amiable rapport with his sultry new colleague. The steam-powered Fiorentino has forged her career by making danger look casual and this is her most alluring work since "The Last Seduction" added another zero to her salary. Her chemistry with Newman a flirty twist on the idea of honor among thieves is really what makes this movie worth seeing. Mulroney is serviceable as the dim but lovable hubby a supporting role that's more foil than fully etched character.
We can all thank director Marek Kanievska for deciding not to have the May-December duo end up in the sack and leaving them simply professional cohorts. The director's admirable sense of comic timing works all the better by not letting the laughs get in the way of his leads' exploration of their characters -- although there's no denying the limits of this frothy genre. Perhaps Kanievska's greatest feat here is allowing Newman to retain his dignity in close-up.