Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand have teamed up with oddball electro-pop pioneers Sparks for a new album project. The Take Me Out hitmakers have been working with Ron and Russell Mael since meeting up in California last year (13).
Sparks keyboard player Ron Mael tells NME.com that the collaboration isn't as odd as it may seem, explaining, "You can really hear a mashing together of both bands. If there was a train crash between Franz Ferdinand and Sparks, this is what the wreckage would sound like.
"Alex (Kapranos) and Russell's voices are very distinctive, so you notice the trade-off between them straight away. Both bands' styles are coming together pretty seamlessly."
Mael admits the get together has been in the planning stages for years after Kapranos expressed an interest in working with the brothers in a 2007 radio interview about Sparks.
He says, "We liked what each other does, and it became the usual thing bands say to each other of, 'We should do something together'. We kept in touch over the years, and last April we both happened to be playing in San Francisco. We struck up the same conversation, but this time we actually started working on it. It seems to be turning into something strong."
David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
The mood was somber and celebrity little more than a means to an end when tonight's telethon, America: A Tribute to Heroes, was shown on every major network and most of the major cable channels. There was no audience applauding; there was no audience, period, except those at home. There were no introductions; that wasn't the point, as celebrity speakers made clear throughout the night by telling the stories of the many heroes who lost their lives and saved the lives of others.
To commemorate Sept. 11, a day that could easily be thought of as "the day the music died," talented and famous faces came together for an evening of songs, stories, and yes, the occasional call for contributions.
The speeches tonight came in all varieties, all impassioned, some tearful, others awkward. A clearly nervous Jim Carrey spoke of Winston Churchill, then told the story of heroes who saved a woman by carrying her down 68 flights of stairs. George Clooney spoke of John Perry, a New York City policeman who'd filed his retirement papers the morning of Sept. 11, but heard of the tragedy and went to help. He never came back, Clooney said.
Cameron Diaz told stories of teachers who saved children at schools near the World Trade Center. Robin Williams talked of a hero who'd saved lives in the 1993 bombing and again this time, only last Tuesday he didn't make it out himself. Jimmy Smits spoke of police heroes, "cops who are willing to sacrifice their lives in an instant, for people they do not know." Julia Roberts spoke tearfully of heroes at the Pentagon, and the flying of the flag and the applause that greeted it.
Kelsey Grammer, who lost a co-worker aboard one of the flights that crashed, quoted words of strength from John F. Kennedy. Clint Eastwood talked gruffly of a day that would live in infamy.
Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Calista Flockhart, Conan O'Brien, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ray Romano, Jane Kaczmarek, Sela Ward, Chris Rock and Dennis Franz also spoke.
With some of the biggest names in music on the bill, America: A Tribute to Heroes was bound to be good. Bruce Springsteen opened with a candlelit acoustic performance of "My City of Ruins." Willie Nelson closed the two-hour event with "God Bless America," backed by an all-star cast of celebs who had been manning the phones all night. Does it get any better than that? Cut the album; give the proceeds to charity. We're there.
Of course, there were those who pointed out the reason for the event in their songs. Stevie Wonder, who followed The Boss, sang, "Love's in Need of Love Today," with the rather pointed line, "Don't delay, send yours in right away." Wyclef Jean's version of "Redemption Song" was peppered with cries of "Brooklyn" and "New York City" and "we've got to full-fill that book," which he sang while pointing to the phone bank.
The much-maligned Mariah Carey sang the only song she could under the circumstances, "Hero," of which she said, "When I wrote this song," she said, "it had a lot of meaning for me, and tonight it has even more meaning." Well said.
U2 appeared from London. Billy Joel tossed off a powerful rendition of "New York State of Mind" with a firefighter's helmet perched atop the piano. Faith Hill, Enrique Iglasias, Alicia Keys, a bearded and shaggy Tom Petty (with requisite Heartbreakers), a cowboy-hatted Neil Young performed as well. The Dixie Chicks were spot on, and Dave Matthews did an impressive solo acoustic tune.
Jon Bon Jovi did "Living on a Prayer"; Sting dedicated his performance of "Fragile" to a friend who died in the attacks. Sheryl Crow performed, and Paul Simon sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, James Woods, Meg Ryan, Cuba Gooding Jr., Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Ben Stiller, Penelope Cruz, Danny DeVito, Halle Berry, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, Benicio Del Toro, Cindy Crawford, Sylvester Stallone, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton, Brad Pitt, Sally Field and other famous faces were seen answering phones at the telethon bank or singing backing vocals on the finale of "God Bless America."
The stars also took the time to make a point about the evils of racism and hate. Several Arab children spoke of the tragedy and its affect on their lives, then Will Smith appeared on stage, with Muhammad Ali, whom he'll be portraying in the forthcoming Ali.
"It was hate, not religion that motivated the attacks," Smith said.
Then Ali spoke. "I'm here because of the troublin' thing that happened the other day. I'm a Muslim, and I've been a Muslim for 20 years…. I think people should know the real truth about Islam. You know me, I'm a boxer…and a man of truth, and I wouldn't be here defending Islam if it was really like the terrorists made it look…. Islam is peace."
Later in the show, Lucy Liu said "America's greatest enemy is hatred itself."
The telethon was Hollywood's effort to generate contributions for the September 11th Telethon Fund, which is administered by the United Way and guaranteed to be distributed 100% to the victims of the terrorist attacks on America last week and their families.
We respect that the Writers Guild of America awards are really important and prestigious and stuff, but what we really respect is that they make winning the office Oscar pool a heck of a lot easier.
"American Beauty" To whit: If you've got a chance to pick "American Beauty" for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar or "Election" for Best Adapted Screenplay, do it. Both films took top honors in their respective categories Sunday night at the 52nd Annual WGA awards, handed out at twin ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles.
The "Beauty" trophy went to scribe Alan Ball, the "Election" one to co-screenwriters Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor. All three men have the chance to repeat at the 72nd Annual Academy Awards on March 26 at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium.
"Election" In taking the best original screenplay prize, Ball defeated Paul Thomas Anderson ("Magonlia"), M. Night Shyamalan ("The Sixth Sense"), David O. Russell ("Three Kings") and Charlie Kaufman ("Being John Malkovich"). All but Russell are up for the Oscar. (Mike Leigh's "Topsy-Turvy" is the Academy's wild card.)
The "Election" team downed screenplays for "The Insider," "The Talented Mr. Ripley," "The Cider House Rules" and "October Sky." Again, all but one ("October Sky") are in competition come Oscar night. The only screenplay "Election" won't have gone head-to-head against is the one for "The Green Mile," the surprise Academy nominee.
The WGA Awards also honor TV. We'd tell you that HBO's "The Sopranos" and NBC's "Frasier" took top honors for drama and comedy series, respectively, but that wouldn't help you with your Oscar handicapping, now would it?
Maybe when the Emmys roll around, we'll send you a reminder.
In other award-show news from an award-show-filled weekend:
-- "ER" was named favorite TV drama and "Everybody Loves Raymond" favorite TV comedy at the 2nd Annual TV Guide Awards on Sunday in Los Angeles. Other key winners: Martin Sheen, tapped Favorite Actor in a New Series for NBC's "The West Wing" and Amy Brenneman, honored as Favorite Actress in a New Series for CBS' "Judging Amy." Overall, hardware in a whopping 25 categories -- from Favorite Soap ("Days of Our Lives," NBC) to bestest pet (Eddie the dog from "Frasier") -- were handed out. Awards were voted on by regular ol' TV Guide readers, explaining why The Guy From "Jag" (David James Elliott) beat out Emmy favorites such as Dennis Franz ("NYPD Blue") for Best Drama Actor.
-- Hip-hop trio TLC hopped to it with two wins -- for best R&B group and best R&B/soul album ("Fanmail") at the 14th Annual Soul Train Music Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles. Mary J. Blige also took multiple honors -- for best R&B/soul album by a female solo artist ("Mary") and the Sammy Davis. Jr. Award for the top female entertainer of the year. Old-timers Whitney Houston and the Guy Who Used to Be Called Prince were singled out as artists of the just-wrapped decade.
-- "Being John Malkovich" has been deigned the Best Stoner Movie of 1999 by the high-minded folks at High Times, a magazine (and Web site) devoted to all things, um, medicinal. Other winners of High Times' first-ever Stony Awards include: Michelle Williams, Kirsten Dunst and Dan Hedaya for Best Pot Scene for "Dick," and Sarah Polley, Katie Holmes and Nathan Bexton for Best Tripping Scene for "Go." ("Go" also took best movie and best director honors. Sounds like an endorsement.) Oscar favorite Kevin Spacey was named best actor for lighting up in "American Beauty." Winners presumably were determined per the polling of a smoke-filled room. A very smoke-filled room.
"American Beauty," the dark existential comedy set in Anywhere, Suburbia, led the pack as nominations were announced today for the 6th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, honoring performances in both film and TV acting.
The film picked up four nominations, including a best actor nod for Kevin Spacey, a best actress one for Annette Bening and a best supporting actor one for Chris Cooper. The "Beauty" cast also was singled out for an ensemble acting nomination.
Trailing "American Beauty" in the movie division with a total of three nods is Spike Jonze's head-scratching absurdist offering "Being John Malkovich". That flick also earned a best ensemble acting nomination, as well as best supporting actress nods for Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener.
Along with "American Beauty" and "Being John Malkovich," Paul Thomas Anderson's sprawling melodrama "Magnolia," "The Cider House Rules" and the Tom Hanks-driven death row flick "The Green Mile" are also in contention for best ensemble film.
Other nominees in the best actor category are: odds-on-Oscar favorite Russell Crowe, for his turn as a tobacco industry whistle-blower in "The Insider"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, for donning drag in "Flawless"; Denzel Washington, for his Golden Globe-winning turn as a wrongly imprisoned boxer in "The Hurricane"; and Jim Carrey, for his equally Golden Globe-winning turn as comic eccentric Andy Kaufman in "Man on the Moon."
Along with Bening, the best film actress nominees are: Julianne Moore ("The End of the Affair"), Meryl Streep ("Music of the Heart"), Janet McTeer ("Tumbleweeds") and Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry).
In the domain of television, HBO's reigning mob hit "The Sopranos" continued its domination of the awards scene, pulling down a field-best five SAG nominations, including one for best ensemble.
Winners will be announced March 12.
Here's the complete nominee list for the 6th Annual SAG Awards:
Best Actor Jim Carrey ("Man on the Moon") Russell Crowe ("The Insider") Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Flawless") Kevin Spacey ("American Beauty") Denzel Washington ("The Hurricane")
Best Actress Annette Bening ("American Beauty") Janet McTeer ("Tumbleweeds") Julianne Moore ("The End of the Affair") Meryl Streep ("Music of the Heart") Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry")
Best Supporting Actor Michael Caine ("The Cider House Rules") Chris Cooper ("American Beauty") Tom Cruise ("Magnolia") Michael Clarke Duncan ("The Green Mile") Haley Joel Osment ("The Sixth Sense")
Best Supporting Actress Cameron Diaz ("Being John Malkovich") Angelina Jolie ("Girl, Interrupted) Catherine Keener ("Being John Malkovich") Julianne Moore ("Magnolia") Chloe Sevigny ("Boys Don't Cry")
Best Ensemble Film "American Beauty" "Being John Malkovich" "The Cider House Rules" "The Green Mile" "Magnolia"
Best Actor for Telefilms and Miniseries Hank Azaria ("Tuesdays With Morrie," ABC) Peter Fonda ("The Passion of Ayn Rand," Showtime) Jack Lemmon ("Tuesdays With Morrie," ABC) George C. Scott ("Inherit the Wind," Showtime) Patrick Stewart ("A Christmas Carol," TNT)
Best Actress for Telefilms and Miniseries Kathy Bates ("Annie," ABC) Halle Berry ("Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," HBO) Judy Davis ("A Cooler Climate," Showtime) Sally Field ("A Cooler Climate," Showtime) Helen Mirren ("The Passion of Ayn Rand," Showtime)
Best Actor for TV Drama Series David Duchovny ("The X-Files," Fox) Dennis Franz ("NYPD Blue," ABC) James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos," HBO) Rick Schroder ("NYPD Blue," ABC) Martin Sheen ("The West Wing," NBC)
Best Actress for TV Drama Series Gillian Anderson ("The X-Files," Fox) Lorraine Bracco ("The Sopranos," HBO) Edie Falco ("The Sopranos," HBO) Nancy Marchand ("The Sopranos," HBO) Annie Potts ("One Fine Day," Lifetime)
Best Actor for TV Comedy Series Michael J. Fox ("Spin City," ABC) Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier," NBC) Peter MacNicol ("Ally McBeal," Fox) David Hyde Pierce ("Frasier," NBC) Ray Romano ("Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS)
Best Actress for TV Comedy Series Calista Flockhart ("Ally McBeal," Fox) Lisa Kudrow ("Friends," NBC) Lucy Liu ("Ally McBeal," Fox) Sarah Jessica Parker ("Sex in the City," HBO) Tracey Ullman ("Tracey Takes On," HBO)
Best Ensemble TV Drama "ER," NBC "Law & Order," NBC "NYPD Blue," ABC "The Practice," ABC "The Sopranos," HBO
Best Ensemble TV Comedy "Ally McBeal," Fox "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS "Frasier," NBC "Friends," NBC "Sports Night," ABC
Nominations for the 7th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced today in Los Angeles at L.A.'s Pacific Design Center.
The unique show, honoring performers from 13 movie and TV categories, will air on TNT, Sunday, March 11 from the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.
The nominations in the movie categories aren’t surprising, with frontrunners Russell Crowe’s from “Gladiator” and Golden Globe winner Julia Roberts from “Erin Brockovich” easily making the list. Golden Globe winners Tom Hanks for “Cast Away” and Kate Hudson for “Almost Famous” snag nominations as well.
Several nominees in the television categories are returning to try their luck again, namely James Gandolfini and Edie Falco from “The Sopranos,” who both won in their respective categories last year. Also, die-hard dramas, such as “ER” and “Law & Order,” are back for their superior ensemble cast performances. But the newest kid on the block, “The West Wing,” may give them a run for their money. Also, the fresh comedy series “Will & Grace” and “Sex in the City” makes a strong showing against other returning champs, such as “Fraiser” and “Ally McBeal.”
The 37th S.A.G. Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to longtime acting couple Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, for their acclaimed body of work and their philanthropic endeavors with their fellow actors.
Here is the complete list of nominations:
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Lead Role
Jamie Bell -- “Billy Elliot”
Russell Crowe -- ”Gladiator”
Benicio Del Toro -- ”Traffic”
Tom Hanks -- ”Cast Away”
Geoffrey Rush -- ”Quills”
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role
Joan Allen -- ”The Contender”
Juliette Binoche -- ”Chocolat”
Ellen Burstyn -- ”Requiem for a Dream”
Laura Linney -- ”You Can Count on Me”
Julia Roberts -- ”Erin Brockovich”
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Jeff Bridges -- ”The Contender”
Willem Dafoe -- ”Shadow of the Vampire”
Albert Finney -- ”Erin Brockovich”
Gary Oldman -- ”The Contender”
Joaquin Phoenix -- ”Gladiator”
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Judi Dench -- ”Chocolat”
Kate Hudson -- ”Almost Famous”
Frances McDormand -- “Almost Famous”
Julie Walters -- “Billy Elliot”
Kate Winslet -- ”Quills”
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Theatrical Motion Picture
For Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Alec Baldwin - “Nuremberg” (TNT)
Brian Cox - “Nuremberg” (TNT)
Brian Dennehy - “Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman” (Showtime)
Danny Glover - “Freedom Song” (TNT)
John Lithgow - “Don Quixote” (TNT)
James Woods - “Dirty Pictures” (Showtime)
For Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Stockard Channing - “The Truth About Jane” (Lifetime)
Judi Dench - “The Last of the Blonde Bombshells” (HBO)
Sally Field - “David Copperfield” (TNT)
Elizabeth Franz - “Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman” (Showtime)
Vanessa Redgrave - “If These Walls Could Talk 2” (HBO)
For Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Tim Daly - “The Fugitive” (CBS)
Anthony Edwards - “ER” (NBC)
Dennis Franz - “NYPD Blue” (ABC)
James Gandolfini - “The Sopranos” (HBO)
Martin Sheen - “The West Wing” (NBC)
For Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Gillian Anderson - “The X-Files” (Fox)
Edie Falco - “The Sopranos” (HBO)
Sally Field - “ER” (NBC)
Lauren Graham - “The Gilmore Girls” (WB)
Allison Janney - “The West Wing” (NBC)
Sela Ward - “Once and Again” (ABC)
For Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Robert Downey Jr. - “Ally McBeal” (Fox)
Kelsey Grammer - “Fraiser” (NBC)
Sean Hayes - “Will & Grace” (NBC)
Peter MacNicol - “Ally McBeal” (Fox)
David Hyde Pierce - “Frasier” (NBC)
For Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Calista Flockhart - “Ally McBeal” (Fox)
Jane Kaczmarek - “Malcolm in the Middle” (Fox)
Debra Messing - “Will & Grace” (NBC)
Megan Mullally - “Will & Grace” (NBC)
Sarah Jessica Parker - “Sex in the City” (HBO)
For Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
“Law & Order”
“The West Wing”
For Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
“Sex in the City”
“Will & Grace”