An English director adept in adapting dramatic literature, Joe Wright also demonstrated a facility with more modern day fare that was far removed from the period costume dramas for which he had first...
ABC has canceled Jason Alexander's new sitcom, Bob Patterson, for its inability to spark Nielsen ratings before completing its initial 13-episode run, according to the Hollywood Reporter. After a rough start in the competitive Tuesday 9 p.m. slot against NBC's Frasier, Patterson, in which Alexander plays a motivational speaker with a messed-up personal life, was moved to the 9:30 p.m. slot in hopes to increase ratings, but it still flopped. Patterson is the second comedy series built around a former Seinfeld sidekick to be canceled. NBC dropped The Michael Richards Show in early December. Next at the bat is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose comedy series 23:12 is set to launch on NBC in March.
Bruce Springsteen won a legal battle in a London court on Tuesday against the British company Masquerade Music, which was appealing an earlier ruling that blocked the unauthorized use of his music, Reuters reports. It was argued that Springsteen's copyright was breached after the company expressed interest in releasing the album Before the Fame, which contained over two dozen songs composed by Springsteen between 1970 and 1972. Springsteen said he was defending the ownership of his music.
Leonardo DiCaprio has signed on to star as a twin in the upcoming drama Johnny Eck, Reuters reports. The film relates the story of twins Robert and Johnny Eckardt, who are identical in every way except that Johnny was born without the lower half of his body and learned to walk on his hands. When Johnny becomes a world famous sideshow performer called "the Half Boy," Robert becomes his manager. Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands) will write the screenplay for the film that is being produced by Pelagius Entertainment's Joe Fries and Mark Gordon.
Tom Cruise will narrate the new Imax film Space Station, taking viewers on a cinematic journey shot by 25 astronauts and cosmonauts from Florida's Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station. "Tom Cruise brings a special dimension to this exciting project, which takes the Imax 3D experience to even more spectacular heights," Greg Foster, president of filmed entertainment for Imax, told Reuters. The film is scheduled to debut early next spring.
Paul McCartney released his second charity single, "Freedom," on Monday after a huge public demand, his publicist told Reuters. Money raised by the new single will go to the Robin Hood Foundation, which helps the families of the victims of Sept. 11 and New York firemen and police. His previous charity single, "From a Lover to a Friend," entered the UK chart at number 45 on Sunday.
Kathleen Turner will play the seductive older woman Mrs. Robinson in the stage version of the 1967 film The Graduate. Jason Biggs of American Pie will portray Benjamin Braddock, the young man she seduces, and Alicia Silverstone will co-star as her daughter, Elaine. According to The Associated Press, the stage production will begin a pre-Broadway tour in January with shows in Baltimore, Toronto, Ontario and Boston. It will then begin preview performances in New York on March 15 with an April 4 opening at a theater yet to be announced.
Web research firm Webnoize confirmed that online music service use has risen since the shut own of Napster earlier this year. According to the report, users swapped a whopping 1.81 billion media files on alternative online services like Kaaza, MusicCity and Grosker in the month of October, Reuters reports. All three applications use software licensed from FastTrack, an Amsterdam-based peer-to-peer technology, and share the same network.
HBO has decided to pick up their Emmy-winning show Sex and the City for a fifth season, Reuters reports. The six remaining episodes from season four are set to bow Jan. 6 though Feb. 10. The cable network plans to premiere season five in June.
Public Broadcasting Corp. announced Monday that it will reduce its 565-person workforce by 10% and close its Midwest programming office due to tough economic times, Reuters reports. PBS president-CEO Pat Mitchell said the network regretted having to cut jobs, but that the move was necessary to preserve programming integrity.
Retiring SAG president Bill Daniels urged its members on Sunday to try to work with the newly elected president, Melissa Gilbert, rather than battling her, or she would face the same massive divisiveness that dogged him during his two-year term, Reuters reports. The controversy stems from the 25,000 New York ballots lacking a signature line and the discrepancies of making New York voters' deadline two days later then the rest of the country. Gilbert was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild on Nov. 2, beating veteran television star Valerie Harper in a bitter contest.
A Happy Place, the 11-month-old production company founded by 'N Sync's Lance Bass, producers Rich Hull and Wendy Thorlakson, music manager Johnny Wright and attorney Joe Anderson, has acquired the romantic comedy Mamma's Boy as their next project. Bass is also taking the starring role for the second time on the big screen. Written by first-time scribe Mark Hatmaker, the film follows the story and misadventures of a young professional who still lives at home with his mother while she attempts to find him a wife.
Bobby Garfield (David Morse) returns to his small hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood friend and remembers the fateful summer in 1960 when his whole world changed. The story flashes back to when 11-year-old Bobby (Anton Yelchin) and his best friends Carol (Mika Boorem) and Sully-John (Will Rothhaar) capture the pure joy of youthfulness. When a mysterious stranger named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) moves upstairs and starts to pay attention to Bobby the boy suddenly realizes what's truly missing from his life--the love of a parent. Bobby's mother Liz (Hope Davis) is embittered by the death of Bobby's father and shows little compassion for her son's growing needs. Ted fills a void with the boy opening his eyes to the world around him and helps Bobby come to terms with his real feelings for Carol--and his mother. But Ted also has some deep dark secrets of his own and Bobby tries hard to stop danger from reaching the old man.
The performances make the film especially in the genuine camaraderie of the kids. Yelchin Boorem and Rothhaar never deliver a false move with an easiness that makes us believe we are simply watching three 11-year-old children grow up together. Yelchin in particular is able to get right to the heart of this young boy who misses his father and clings to the only adult who will listen. And his scenes with Boorem simply break your heart. (Davis) does an admirable job playing a part none too sympathetic. She manages to show a woman whose been beaten down but who does truly love her son in her own way. Morse too is one of those character actors you can plug in any movie and get a performance worth noting. In Hearts you want to see more of him. Of course the film shines brightest when Hopkins is on the screen. It may not be an Oscar-caliber performance but the actor is unparalleled in bringing a character to life--showing the subtleties of an old man looking for some peace in his life.
If you are expecting the Stephen King novel you may be disappointed. Screenwriter William Goldman and director Scott Hicks (Shine) deftly extracted the King formula of telling a story through a child's eye and explaining how the relationships formed as a child shaped the adult later. Hicks did an amazing job with his young actors especially Yelchin and Boorem. But where the novel continued into a supernatural theme explaining Brautigan's fear of being captured by "low men in yellow coats" (a reference to King's The Dark Tower series) the movie downplayed the mystical elements instead giving real explanations for Brautigan's man-on-the-run. That was the one problem with Hearts--we needed more danger. Introducing men from another dimension may not have been the way to go but had there been more tension the film would have resonated more especially when Bobby risked his own safety to save Ted.
Directed first short "Crocodile Snap," about a woman's bid to escape her violent husband
Directed the thriller "Hanna," starring Saoirse Ronan as an assassin trained by her ex-CIA agent father (Eric Bana)
Made feature directorial debut with "Pride and Prejudice," an adaptation of the Jane Austen classic; starred Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen; received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director
Directed "The Soloist," a film about musical prodigy Nathaniel Ayers, who developed schizophrenia in his second year at Juilliard and ended up homeless on the streets of L.A.
Made miniseries directorial debut with "Nature Boy" (BBC)
Re-teamed with Knightley to direct an adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel "Atonement"
Third film with Keira Knightley, the film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina"
Started his career as a teenager helping at the Little Angel Theatre in Islington, North London, a venue founded by his late father
Helmed the BBC drama "Charles II: The Power & the Passion" (aired in the U.S. on A&E as "The Last King")
An English director adept in adapting dramatic literature, Joe Wright also demonstrated a facility with more modern day fare that was far removed from the period costume dramas for which he had first gained notoriety. Wright first broke out in England with his critically-acclaimed and award-nominated take on the Jane Austen classic, "Pride and Prejudice" (2005), starring his soon-to-be muse, Keira Knightley. Praised for his insistence on a sense of movement and realism in a genre long-considered stuffy and reserved, Wright continued his success in adapting period source material with "Atonement" (2007), a sweeping epic starring Knightley and based on the award-winning novel by British contemporary Ian McEwan. Two contemporary-set projects followed - the based-on-fact tale of music and redemption "The Soloist" (2009), starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx, and the violent fairy tale thriller "Hanna" (2011), with young Saoirse Ronan in the title role. He paired with Knightley for the third time to bring Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy's sweeping novel "Anna Karenina" (2012) to life in an intoxicatingly extravagant production. One of the more technically adventurous and unpredictable young directors of his generation, Wright continued to seek out new challenges, for both audiences and himself as a filmmaker.<p>Wright was born in 1972 in London, England. He grew up in a creative household, as his parents had founded a puppet company called The Little Angel Theatre. Wright always kept his eye on the arts, taking up painting and acting at a young age, but felt that the best he could do in life was to be a postman. Nonetheless, he developed an interest in film growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. With little instruction, he began pursuing his passion the old-fashioned way; making his own movies with a Super-8 film camera. Despite being exceptionally bright and enterprising, Wright was a poor student because of his dyslexia. But on the strength of his homemade films and drawings, Wright was admitted to a private art school and later attended the Camberwell College of Arts, where he studied fine art and cinema. On of his short films, "Crocodile Snap" (1997), earned him several awards and nominations, including a nod at the 1998 BAFTA Awards, as well as a filmmaking scholarship with the BBC.<p>Wright started working in British television, beginning with the cult hit miniseries "Nature Boy," (BBC, 2000), "Bodily Harm" (Channel 4, 2002) and the period epic, "Charles II: The Power and the Passion" (A & E, 2003). The prolific young director made the jump to feature films with "Pride and Prejudice," the 1813 Jane Austen classic about the Bennett sisters, notably the free-thinking Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), and their mission to marry into genteel society. Reluctant to make a costume drama when he considered himself a filmmaker with edgier tastes, Wright nonetheless agreed to give the book a try after being sent the script, having never read it in his youth. After bringing it with him to a neighborhood pub, Wright was struck by how people faced the same difficulties in love and understanding back then, as people did in current society. By the time he finished the book, he had changed his mind and signed on to direct.<p>Not a stiff, mannered piece of literature, but the keen observations of a 24-year-old girl with a modern sensibility at the beginning of the 19th century, Wright was determined to transfer that spirit to film. In getting to the rebellious nature of the original work, Wright was careful to avoid the 1940 version starring Laurence Olivier and the 1995 BBC miniseries, considered by many to be the definitive interpretation of Austen's work. In casting Knightley as Lizzie and newcomer Matthew McFayden as her unlikely suitor, Darby, Wright stayed true to his conviction that the characters should be young enough to be discovering and exploring love for the first time. He also cast British stalwart Dame Judi Dench and American acting icon Donald Sutherland in the pivotal roles of Lady Catherine and Mr. Bennett.<p>Wright shifted the story from inside the parlor rooms to outside in the country, significantly opening up the visual palette, and favored realistic dirt and grime over pomp and circumstance. Avoiding the somber, carefully staged shots of stagecoaches pulling up to stately manors, Wright kept the camera moving with tracking shots, bringing an urgency and modern sense of life to the nearly 200-year-old story. His efforts paid off. "Pride and Prejudice" was a hit with critics, who widely embraced his grittier interpretation, while the film was a moneymaker at the box office, grossing over $120 million worldwide. The film earned four Oscar nominations, including a best actress nod for Knightley. For his efforts, Wright earned a BAFTA award for most promising newcomer. Aside from cementing his reputation as a filmmaker to be reckoned with, Wright also clicked enough with actress Rosamund Pike, who played Jane Bennett in the film, that she later became his wife.<p>After the dust settled, Wright was invited to direct another adaptation. He was given present-day literary giant Ian McEwan's 2001 novel, "Atonement," the story of a young girl who irrevocably alters lives when she fabricates a story, implicating a young man for a crime he never committed. Wright reunited with leading lady Knightley, who was joined onscreen by James McAvoy and Vanessa Redgrave. Critics embraced the film when it made the rounds at the festivals in Venice and Toronto, praising it for its fidelity to the award-winning novel. For a follow-up project, Wright was set to direct "The Soloist," the story of a violin prodigy whose schizophrenia reduced him to a life of homelessness and playing on the streets for donations. For a follow-up project, Wright directed "The Soloist" (2009), the true-to-life story about violin prodigy Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), who developed schizophrenia while attending the Juilliard School, leaving him homeless and performing on the streets for money. But his life changes when a <i>Los Angeles Times</i> columnist (Robert Downey, Jr.) discovers and befriends him, leading to fulfilling Ayers' dream of performing at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.<p>Wright remained in the here and now for his next feature, "Hannah" (2011), although the action-thriller with dark, fantastical elements was yet another departure for the daring filmmaker. Reuniting the director with Saoirse Ronan from "Atonement," the film followed a young girl (Ronan) who, after being trained from birth by her rogue C.I.A. operative father (Eric Bana), flees from a shadowy agency officer (Cate Blanchett) intent on killing them both. A violent coming-of-age fairy tale of sorts, "Hannah" impressed the majority of critics and became a moderate hit for Wright. He returned to more familiar period literary trappings the following year with an ambitious adaptation of Tolstoy's classic novel "Anna Karenina" (2012). Starring frequent collaborator Knightley in the title role, Wright's take on the epic tale of 19th century czarist Russian life was simultaneously praised for its lush production values, cinematography and Knightley's performance, even as it was criticized for emphasizing gloss of substance.
Co-founded the Little Angel Theater, a puppet theater in Islington