We've seen her vie for the love of Prince Christopher against the efforts of her wicked stepmother in Cinderella. We've watched her transform friendship to romance with her lifelong neighbor Hakeem on Moesha. And now, we'll see our beloved Brandy drink in the wonders of matrimony with her new fiancé, Ryan Press. People reports that the one-named actress and R&B icon is newly engaged to the music executive.
Brandy, born Brandy Norwood, and Press announced their courtship last New Years Eve; Brandy has since teased the idea of a future with Press by claiming she'd "marry him with a bubble-gum ring." Brandy has also made mention of how well her 10-year-old daughter Sy'rai Smith (whom Brandy had with her ex-boyfriend, music producer Robert Smith) and Press have taken to one another.
[Photo Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images]
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Power producer Neal Moritz’ (Green Hornet Fast & Furious) company is called Original Film which is ironic because he hasn’t made a truly unique motion picture in some time. His latest effort Battle: Los Angeles isn’t groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination but packs enough punch to leave you saying “Thank you sir may I have another?”
Jonathan Liebesman (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning) directs this massive movie about a race of aliens colonizing our planet but as the title suggests the action is centered on the City of Angels. Instead of watching the world at war we witness the American military’s last stand on the West Coast by following a single squad of soldiers on the ground as they fight their way through the city to pick up scattered civilians before the Air Force levels Los Angeles. 2nd Lt. William Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) leads the troop but is too young to be calling the shots in a cataclysmic event like this. Thank heavens Squad Sgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) was called back in for one last mission because it doesn’t take long for the rest of the battalion to realize that the reluctant hero is their best chance for survival.
It’s a good thing that Liebesman and his technical crew are on the top of their game in Battle: LA because most of the other aspects of the production are just downright foolish. Writer Chris Bertolini took the framework from a handful of classic war movies and applied them to his script resulting in highly predictable scenarios and a pace that marches to the beat of past genre entries like Independence Day and Black Hawk Down. His dialogue filled with military jargon and 5th grade humor is quite literally laughable at some points while the thinly crafted characters are all token “team members” that you’ve seen before in films like Jarhead from the soon-to-be-father who’s not sure if he’s going to make it back to his wife to the new recruit/virgin who’s too young to die to the guy with the chip on his shoulder. We get brief glimpses of their back-stories in the first twenty minutes of the movie but as Nantz says during his Bill Pullman moment when the tide begins to turn “none of that matters now.”
What does matter is that Battle: Los Angeles is a roaring thrill ride that barely lets up from start to finish. From the moment the soldiers hit the streets they’re thrust into a tense and gritty survival situation that vaguely mirrors the urban environments in which our Marines are currently engaged in the Middle East. Liebesman uses handheld cameras and close-ups to capture the calamity of combat giving the picture a documentary quality that helps it find some semblance of individuality. Though his actors aren’t required to do much acting (save for Michael Pena whose small role as a dedicated father stands out) and the script as stated is noticeably sub-par capturing their facial expressions as hovercrafts blow fighter jets out of the sky brings out emotion that most of them wouldn’t be able convey in a more traditional performance.
As I continue to heap praise upon the film’s technical achievements I must also note editor Christian Wagner’s chaotic cuts that heighten the soldier’s state of paranoia and the overall sound design of the picture. Until we get up close and personal with one of the aliens Liebesman doesn’t show us much; we have a hard time seeing them because they move so fast but we can hear their quick movements and the affect is quite unsettling much like the performances from Michelle Rodriguez Ne-Yo and a slew of the films co-stars.
Whether or not the filmmakers originally intended on making a movie that was more than the average alien invasion flick is neither here nor there. Is it a rehash of the most exciting moments in War of the Worlds or Red Dawn? Sure it is but it’s also an electrifying film that manages to be engrossing and entertaining in spite of its flaws.
Life’s never exactly been a walk in the park for Rooster (Antwan Patton) and Percival (Andre Benjamin) even when they were childhood best friends but things are about to get real messy. Now grown up and living in the 1930s South--Idlewild Georgia to be exact--they remain close and even work together. Rooster the more flamboyant of the two is the emcee and Percy the piano player at a place called Church which is “anything but.” Church is a speakeasy beloved by locals but after a gangster (Terrence Howard) forcibly removes the club’s former owner (Faizon Love) the new regime is considerably tighter especially for Rooster who has to answer to the new guy in charge. Rooster is all about business and is concerned about keeping Church in operation. Percy meanwhile is torn between love for a woman (Paula Patton) and allegiance for his widower dad (Ben Vereen). But nothing will get resolved before the gunpowder settles. As Outkast Benjamin (a.k.a. Andre 3000) and Patton (a.k.a. Big Boi) have set pop music on fire while maintaining hip-hop cred. In Idlewild they try to continue that along with taking over a new medium; the results are mixed. Patton the one with seemingly no aspirations of movie stardom actually gives the stronger performance of the two. This is just his second film yet he coolly slides right into this role one that should’ve entailed more dialogue and less rapping. For Benjamin he has certainly displayed acting chops before but his wounded puppy dog Percy does not suit the actor at all. A role with more external drama would seem optimal for him. Benjamin does seem deeply committed to acting though so there’s reason to have faith. But it’s Howard yet again who absolutely pilfers the show making everyone look like mere rappers trying to cross over. His Hustle and Flow hype now calmed Howard proves that he is anything but a one-hit wonder. Bryan Barber is Outkast’s go-to music-video director who’s making his feature debut with Idlewild; both of those facts speak volumes about his writing/directing effort here. As such the film is loaded with bright spots usually consisting of the dance sequences and the overall style and major cinematic blemishes as can be expected for a first-timer. In other words the core elements--i.e. the script and direction--are a mess but the peripheral elements--i.e. the look and sound--are dazzling. Part of the problem is the timing of the release: This film is supposed to do too many things from launching Benjamin into movie stardom to coinciding with the actual Outkast album/soundtrack release and that ambition is a microcosm of the flaws. But most of all there is simply too much going on here. Anachronisms run rampant where they shouldn’t and the same can be said for some of the songs--the vulgar rap played against the film’s Southern themes doesn’t always quite work as the intended contrast is sometimes overbearing.
Richard Riddick (Vin Diesel) has a really bad rep and with good reason: Five years ago convicted killer Riddick escaped the galaxy's law enforcement during a botched interplanetary prison transfer and has been on the lam ever since. As The Chronicles of Riddick picks up our antagonist finds his relative freedom has been compromised when mercenaries out for the $1 million bounty on his head discover his location and hunt him down. Riddick escapes their clutches steals their ship and sets off for Planet Helion to find Imam (Keith David) the Muslim cleric he rescued in Pitch Black and the only person who could have squealed his location to authorities. But while Riddick's hunch about Imam are correct the cleric has a reason for luring the mammoth murderer out of hiding: Helion is falling to unholy armies of Necromongers--warriors who conquer by force in the vein of Star Trek's Borg. Of course Riddick doesn't give a damn about the Helions or their plight--until he gets wind that the Necromogers want to kill him because of an old prophecy that foresees their end at Riddick's hands. Like it or not Riddick is left with no other choice but to battle the Necromongers.
The character of Riddick is unquestionably what made Pitch Black one of the most sequel-worthy sci-fi films in years. And Riddick would not have been one of sci-fi's most intoxicating characters if it weren't for Diesel. Like his Dominic Toretto in the 2001 actioner The Fast and the Furious Riddick is a villain of few words but when he speaks his carefully chosen words have impact--even if the dialogue is at times overly theatrical. Riddick is the perfect antihero; a cold-blooded and indifferent being who somehow evokes more compassion than the film's so-called good guys. Joining Riddick are some recurring characters including David as Imam but Riddick benefits the most from the addition of some new characters particularly Colm Feore as Lord Marshal the Necromonger leader whose goal is to rid the universe of all human life. Feore channeling nuggets of Julius Caesar into his role makes for one of Riddick's most thrilling foes. Another prominent addition to the cast is Judi Dench who has a surprisingly small role as Aereon an Elemental captured by the Necromongers and used for her special powers including ESP.
Writer/director David Twohy took his horror pic Pitch Black which gained a cult following since it was released four years ago and managed to successfully turn it into an sci-fi actioner of epic proportions. Everything is grander here which is almost a given considering Twohy shot Pitch Black on a dime in Australia using colored filters. In Riddick the director distinguishes the film's different environments--the Necros' mothership Crematoria's cavernous prison and Helion--using warm to cool tones that are dazzling yet more subtle than its predecessor. The CGI effects get a little gamey at times but production designer Holger Gross' gargantuan sets are impressive and help craft Twohy's otherworldly vision into a plausible one. And although Twohy jumps genres from Pitch Black to its sequel his storyline evolves logically from the original premise. But while moviegoers unfamiliar with Pitch Black will be able to follow the story easily enough they may have a difficult time grasping what makes Riddick such a big deal; the film explains the legend but never fully captures its quintessence. This could hurt Riddick's chances to broaden its Pitch Black fan base.
Indie queen Christina Ricci will be working with eclectic director Woody Allen on his next untitled project. As usual, the plot is being kept firmly under wraps, but The Hollywood Reporter notes the film will center around three young adults. Jason Biggs (American Pie) is also on board. Filming is set to start in the spring.
Ricci is hot on the independent film market right now, having starred in this year's Sundance Film Festival darling Pumpkin and Miramax Films' upcoming Prozac Nation. She'll also be seen in HBO's The Laramie Project, which airs Saturday, March 9.
In a trendy Manhattan art gallery, Susan Sarandon, Bill Pullman, Art Garfunkel and many other celebrities attended a gala preview Monday of artwork by students, faculty and alumni of the Savannah College of Art and Design. The event was hosted by James Wyeth, son of artist Andrew Wyeth and grandson of N.C.Wyeth.
Country singer Faith Hill is going to the Academy Awards. She'll be performing the song "There You'll Be" from the movie Pearl Harbor, written by Diane Warren. The song has been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Song category, along with other nominated songs from Monsters, Inc., The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Kate & Leopold and Vanilla Sky.
Sean Combs, whose previous aliases revolved around being called "Daddy," finally faced up to the real thing when he reached a custody and financial settlement Tuesday with former model Kimberly Porter, mother of his three-year-old son, Christian. Combs had been a no-show in court nine times over the last year and was threatened with an arrest if he failed to appear Tuesday. He'll be providing child support, health insurance and other necessities for the child.
Pop singer/actress Brandy Norwood, 23, told MTV's Carson Daly on Total Request Live Tuesday the baby she is carrying is a girl. Brandy secretly wed record producer Robert Smith, 22, last summer. The baby is due in July.
Legendary comedian Lucille Ball's childhood home was put on the market via the Internet. The two-story house in Chautauqua County in upstate New York, where Ball lived from the time she was 8 years old to the middle of her high school years, is listed on the Web site eBay for an asking price of $98,500 by real estate broker Bruce Turner. The 112-year-old house had been sitting on the regular market for nearly a year before Turner put it on eBay. So far, the house has yet to be sold.
Dana Delaney of China Beach fame is returning to television. She'll star in a new hospital drama, Presidio Med, for CBS, playing a pediatric doctor. And in other TV casting news, Saturday Night Live alum Cheri Oteri has signed up for the ABC comedy pilot With You in Spirit, about a recent college grad (Reid Scott) who ends up in Spirit, N.M., working as a reporter. Primetime television just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?
Veteran journalist Cokie Roberts has decided to slow things down. In November, she'll be leaving ABC's This Week and co-anchor Sam Donaldson, when her contract expires. She wants to spend more time with her family. Roberts is still in conversations with ABC on what role she will play in the future with the network and will continue reporting for National Public Radio. To further fan the fire, The Hollywood Reporter reported there is speculation that George Stephanopoulos and Claire Shipman will replace Donaldson and Roberts, but ABC network officials have strongly denied the report.
ABC is just on the hot wire lately....As CBS and ABC continue to iron out their bids for talk-show host David Letterman, Ted Koppel defended his 22-year-old ABC news show Nightline, which ABC executives are rumored to be considering bumping in favor of Letterman's higher-rated show. Reuters reported Koppel wrote a op-ed piece and spoke out against the network executives. He wrote, "When Nightline is gone...and should the occasion arrive that our work might again seem relevant to the anonymous executive, it will not then be possible to reconstitute what is so easily destroyed." Letterman, however, has made it clear he will not consider moving to ABC unless the network can assure him that he is not responsible for knocking Koppel off the air.
Punk rocker Adam Ant was released on bail relating to his January arrest after an altercation in a London pub. He was arrested on charges of criminal damage, assault and possession of a firearm or imitation firearm with intention to cause fear of violence. The plea hearing is set for May 1 to decide whether the case will be heard.
February 04, 2002 12:47pm EST
Winona Ryder was charged Friday with one count each of grand theft, commercial burglary, vandalism and possession of a controlled substance, stemming from her Dec. 12 shoplifting arrest at a Saks Fifth Avenue store in Beverly Hills. According to the Associated Press, prosecutors are also seeking to increase Ryder's bail from $20,000 to $30,000. The 30-year-old actress is due back in court Feb. 8 for arraignment.
The Girl, Interrupted star is accused of trying to lift $4,800 in clothing and accessories from the high-end department store and of carrying the painkiller Oxycodone without a prescription. After her arrest, her attorney Mark Geragos contended that Ryder was just carrying items between store departments and that she had receipts for other items she bought in the store, as well as a valid prescription for the painkillers.
Dubbed as the female equivalent of John Travolta in Battlefield Earth, Mariah Carey (Glitter) is this year's frontrunner for worst actress for the Golden Raspberry Awards, which honor the year's worst films. Preliminary tabulations also show Carey's cleavage may also receive a nod, so to speak, in the worst screen couple category, Ananova.com reports. The full list of Razzie nominations will be announced February 11.
Julia Roberts will appear at the Oscars again this year, but this time as a presenter rather than a nominee. It's the third time Roberts, who won Best Actress last year for her role in Erin Brockovich, has presented. The 74th Academy Awards will take place on March 24 at the new Kodak Theater in Hollywood.
Jamie Foxx, who has a house in Las Vegas, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that he may take on the role of Bosley in the Charlie's Angels sequel. Since Bill Murray, who played Bosley in the first film, will not be returning for Charlie's Angels 2, Foxx joked he could replace him as his son, the product of "a hot little night back in the 'hood."
Robert De Niro as fashion plate? An exhibit opening Wednesday at the American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York, will celebrate the various get-ups the actor has worn on screen. Robert De Niro: Costume & Character will trace the actors cinematic ensembles including his leopard skin robe in Raging Bull and the apricot fire-singed suit from Casino, PageSix.com reports.
Hugh Hefner is reportedly looking for an apartment in New York. According to PageSix.com, Hef has enlisted the help of Gordon Golub and Howard Boyar of Citi Habitats to help him with his search. The Playboy king hasn't decided on new digs yet.
According to Nielsen data for Friday and Saturday, NBC is leading early sweeps thanks to strong series performances from Friends and Will & Grace, Variety reports. ABC came in second, thanks in part to Barbara Walters' 20/20 interview with Celine Dion's and Stephen King's Rose Red, with CBS following close behind. Fox came in last, but will probably move into the lead when Sunday's Super Bowl is factored into the February sweeps.
Super Bowl commercials, which sold for an average of just under $2 million for 30 second spots, ran a wide spectrum of topics this year, from fast food to anti-terrorism. Fox said 30 companies bought ads for 37 brands. Brewer Anheuser-Busch was the biggest sponsor with five minutes of ad buys.
NBC's The West Wing has yanked a television spot for this week's episode in which an American reporter is kidnapped, The New York Times reports. The network made the move after viewers pointed out similarities to the abduction of Daniel Pearl, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. NBC has no plans to replace the episode, but will run a new ad focusing on a different angle of the same plot.
Pop star Brandy Norwood secretly married music producer Robert Smith last summer, reports celebrity gossip maven Florence Anthony. The singer and Cover Girl model said in a statement through her record company, Atlantic Records, "I've fallen in love with a very warm, gentle, understanding, and focused person...This summer we married quietly."
Following a two-year break, Celine Dion is getting back to work with a new album and a multimillion dollar Las Vegas performance contract, and is also making plans to have a second baby. According to Reuters, the 33-year-old singer has clinched a deal to sing five nights a week for three years at Caesar's Palace. In an interview with Barbara Walters last Friday, Dion also revealed plans to use a frozen embryo to try for a second child with her manager-husband Rene Angelil after her Las Vegas stint.
Paul McCartney is planning a tour for the first time in 10 years, Reuters reports. In a statement Monday, McCartney announced the Drivin' USA tour will start some time in early April and include 14 concerts in the United States plus one show in Canada.
A tribute to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack featuring Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Ralph Stanley, Gillian Welch and the Soggy Bottom Boys will be among the first musical acts for the 44th annual Grammys, Variety reports. The Dave Matthews Band, 'N Sync, Nelly, U2 and Alicia Keys were previously announced as performers.
Movin' Out, a musical featuring 26 of Billy Joel's songs and instrumental compositions, will begin Broadway performances at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on September 30, Broadway.com reports. The show is scheduled to play a world premiere engagement at Chicago's Shubert Theatre from June 25 to August 4 before heading to New York.