In the beginning of the Dark Ages the warlords of England are brutally kept in line by the Irish King Donnchadh (David O'Hara). Tristan (James Franco) has grown up hating the Irish for killing his family and has made a strong allegiance to father figure Lord Marke (Rufus Sewell) while Isolde (Sophia Myles) Donnchadh's daughter has grown up under her father’s thumb. After a fierce battle that leaves Tristan near death he washes up on Irish soil and is nursed secretly back to health by Isolde who tells him she’s someone else. The two fall madly in love but Tristan must return to England before he’s discovered. Meanwhile Donnchadh decides to stage a tournament between all the champions of England with his daughter as the prize. Tristan ends up winning the princess' hand for Lord Marke but is horrified to find out she’s his own true love. Tristan and Isolde now must suppress their love for the sake of peace and the future of England. But despite their best efforts to stay apart the lovers are driven inexorably together. Despite the fact that Franco (Spider-Man) and Myles (Underworld) look lovely rolling around on the ground in romantic trysts and gazing forlornly at one another you don’t necessarily feel any heat between them. That seems to be mostly the fault of Franco who plays the young Tristan far too stoically. We understand he’s a tortured soul torn between duty and love with his eyes perpetually half-filled with tears. But couldn’t he have shown a little more passion (and while he’s at it washed his hair)? The luminous Myles is better at showing her burning desire but she too is left many times sad and weepy. Only Sewell (Legend of Zorro) who is usually delegated to playing bad guys shows any kind of raw emotion as he first falls genuinely in love with his bride--and then is betrayed by her and the only son he ever knew. He’d probably make a great King Arthur. As the Celtic myth of Tristan and Isolde predates the Arthurian legend as well as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet you can easily see how those two more famous stories were possibly formed. Tristan & Isolde is a classic story of forbidden passion set against political upheaval as well as a tale about a tragic love triangle. Producers Ridley and Tony Scott had been fascinated with the legend for many years and finally got the opportunity to bring it to the big screen. Ridley however who directed last summer’s medieval fare Kingdom of Heaven wisely chose to hand over the directing reins to Kevin Reynolds (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) who adequately paints a picture of a time when chaos reigned. Maybe Tristan & Isolde is not as compelling or romantic as the king of them all Braveheart but it is certainly far more accessible than say Kingdom of Heaven. Sorry Ridley.
Top Story: Kate Hudson Expecting First Child
Actress Kate Hudson and her rock star husband, Chris Robinson, are expecting their first child early next year, Reuters reports. A spokesman for Hudson, whose moment to shine came in her breakout role as Penny Lane in the 2000 Oscar winning movie Almost Famous, declined to give a more exact due date for the baby. Hudson, 24, and Robinson, 36, were married in December 2000. Robinson, the former frontman for the Black Crowes, is expected to begin touring again soon with his new band, New Earth Mud. Hudson is currently starring in the romantic comedy Alex and Emma, which opens this weekend. This will make a grandmother of Hudson's Oscar-winning mom, Goldie Hawn, the star of the 1960s TV show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.
Spears, Berry and Costner Get Hollywood Stars
Britney Spears, Halle Berry and Kevin Costner are getting stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, Johnny Grant, chairman of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, announced Thursday. Anthony Hopkins, John Singleton, Ted Turner, Glenn Close, Journey and 17-year-old twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen will also get the celebrated sidewalk honor next year.
Stewart Trial Set for January 12
A federal judge ruled Thursday that Martha Stewart's trial for securities fraud will start on Jan. 12, Reuters reports. U.S. Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum set the trial date after defense lawyers said they needed more time to review the government's evidence against Stewart and Peter Bacanovic, her former stockbroker at Merrill Lynch & Co. Stewart, 61, was indicted June 4 and pleaded not guilty of securities fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements. If convicted, she could face up to 30 years in prison and $2 million in fines.
Actor's Union Shuts Down Voight Project
About 30 union actors and crew members, including Tess Harper and James Cromwell, have managed to shut down the non-union film Deadly Course, a project they believed was being produced by Screen Actors' Guild member Jon Voight. A representative of the Intl. Assn. of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) who asked not to be identified told Reuters, "The working conditions were horrendous. The pay was terrible. Some people were getting $6-$7 an hour. Some were working 20-hour days." Voight confirmed to Reuters the project had been completely shut down but insisted he was not working on the film.
Exorcist Author, Director Sue Warner Bros.
William Peter Blatty, the author of The Exorcist, and William Friedkin, the director of the 1973 movie, have filed suit against Warner Bros., claiming the studio breached its fiduciary duty by self-dealing the rights for a newer version of the film. They also claim the studio would sell the rights to its sister cable TV networks TNT and TBS for little to no profit. Warner Bros., however, asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, claiming it has no financial responsibility to Blatty and Friedkin. Superior Court Judge Laurie Zelon denied Thursday Blatty and Friedkin's claim of breach of fiduciary duty, but set a July 14 trial for the two's claims of breach of contract and misrepresented accounting, the AP reports.
No Spike TV for Viacom
The five appellate judges of the New York State Supreme Court upheld an injunction Thursday preventing media conglomerate Viacom Inc. from renaming its TNN cable network "Spike TV," Reuters reports. Filmmaker Spike Lee, who directed Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and 25th Hour, had won a temporary injunction last week stopping the name change, claiming he feared he would be erroneously associated with the network. Viacom, which plans to feature racy animated series such as Pamela Anderson's Stripperella and The Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon, wanted to change the name of its cable network to coincide with a programming shift.
Russell Simmons Pushes To Reform Drug Law
Impresario Russell Simmons went to Albany, N.Y., to push politicians to reform drug laws, but instead got blamed for taking up too much of the legislature's time. According to Reuters, Republican State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said the Wednesday night seven-hour marathon meeting with Simmons "took too much time." The two sides made progress, however, reaching a last minute agreement on how to reduce sentences for people now serving time mandated by the Rockefeller-era drug laws, which often result in jail time for first offenses and give judges almost no discretion.
Celebrities Entertain U.S. Troops in Gulf
Kid Rock and Wayne Newton will perform for U.S. troops in the Gulf this week as part of the first large-scale entertainment tour of the region. Dubbed Project Salute 2003, the performers will visits American military personnel in Baghdad, the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and the Ali al-Salem air base in Kuwait, said Donna St. John, Reuters reports. Other celebs on the entertainment roster include actresses Alyssa Milano, Brittany Murphy, country singer Lee Ann Womack, actor Gary Sinise, comedian Paul Rodriguez and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders.
Role Call: Zellweger To Play Joplin in Feature Biopic