Michael Moore posts election reaction On his first post-election post, filmmaker Michael Moore gives readers 17 reasons not to slit their wrists.
"Ok, it sucks. Really sucks," Moore rants on his official Web site. "But before you go and cash it all in, let's, in the words of Monty Python, 'always look on the bright side of life!' There IS some good news from Tuesday's election." Moore, whose anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 took in more that $120 million at the box office, writes: "Gays, thanks to the ballot measures passed on Tuesday, cannot get married in 11 new states. Thank God. Just think of all those wedding gifts we won't have to buy now." What other silver linings does Moore see? "Admit it: We like the Bush twins and we don't want them to go away," he jokes.
Rape suspect appears on TV's Blind Date
A woman in Ventura, Calif., watching an episode of the TV series Blind Date, in which cameras follows two strangers fixed up by the show on their first date, called police when she recognized the man who had raped her 14 months earlier. According to the Los Angeles Times, the woman recorded the episode and turned the tape over to local authorities, who then contacted Santa Barbara police. Ulrick Kevin White, 31, was arrested on suspicion of raping and kidnapping the woman and is being held at the Ventura County Jail on $500,000 bail. White is also awaiting trial on suspicion of breaking into the Santa Barbara home of a 22-year-old student after allegedly following her home in November 2003. "The chances against seeing someone like that on TV are pretty astronomical," Det. Russ Robinson said.
Judge in Jackson case won't remove prosecutor
A California judge Thursday rejected a bid by Michael Jackson's lawyers to remove District Attorney Tom Sneddon from the pop star's child-molestation case, The Associated Press reports. Defense attorney Thomas Mesereau argued Sneddon had become so determined to convict Jackson that he had lost his sense of justice and bore a grudge against the singer that dated back to 1993. But Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville ruled during a pretrial hearing in Santa Maria there was no proof Sneddon had acted improperly or overzealously. Jackson, who is charged in a 10-count indictment with molesting a young boy and conspiring to cover up the crime, is scheduled to stand trial beginning Jan. 31.
Band Aid to rerecord "Do They Know It's Christmas"
Paul McCartney, Bono, Robbie Williams and Dido are among the performers lined up for the new recording of the Band Aid charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas," Billboard.com reports, again to benefit famine relief in Africa. Bono will reprise his famous line "Well tonight, thank God it's them instead of you," while McCartney will play bass on the recording, credited to Band Aid 20 to commemorate the anniversary of the 1984 release. Travis' Fran Healy, meanwhile, will play guitar on the track. "If it turns out absolutely s---, it does not matter," he told Billboard.com. "What I will say is you've got to buy the record because it's the only record that's going to save lives this side of Christmas, and you can't ask for more than that." The tune will raise money for the Band Aid Trust's famine relief in Africa, specifically in the blighted Darfur region of Sudan.
Steven Soderbergh opposes loud trailers
Ocean's Twelve director Steven Soderbergh has a gripe about trailers being too loud-and he's kicked his fight up a notch. Soderbergh voiced his concerns regarding the sound level at which trailers are played at a meeting held last month by the Trailer Audio Standards Assn., an organization whose goal is to uphold exhibition loudness standards. According to Reuters, the director's complaint was that trailer volume often leads moviegoers to ask theater managers to turn it down. But managers don't always turn it back up, which leads to movie volumes being too low. Soderbergh's criticism didn't fall on deaf ears: As a result, the Cinema Advertising Council (CAC) is putting together its first set of sound standards to govern the loudness of commercials and pre-show entertainment.
Cosmetics company sues Jessica Simpson
Cosmetics maker Cosmojet Inc. filed a lawsuit Oct. 21 in Los Angeles Superior Court against singer Jessica Simpson, claiming the singer owes nearly $200,000 for about $1 million worth of product shipped for her edible cosmetic line, Dessert Beauty Inc., which includes the products "Powdered Sugar Deliciously Kissable Body Shimmer." But in a statement to the syndicated news magazine Celebrity Justice, Simpson's spokesperson said: "Jessica Simpson is a spokesperson for Dessert products and has no involvement in the day-to-day operation of the company's business. Ms. Simpson has no knowledge whether Cosmojet's claim has any basis, nor does she have any responsibility for the company's accounting and billing procedures or payment obligations."
Two U.S. films win at London film fest
Jonathan Caouette's autobiographical documentary Tarnation, about an unsettled childhood scarred by his mother's mental illness, and Nicole Kassell's The Woodsman, which stars Kevin Bacon as a child molester trying to rebuild his life after 12 years in prison, won top awards Thursday at the 48th London Film Festival's final day, the AP reports. Tarnation, compiled from home movies, videos, snapshots and audio tapes and edited on simple computer movie software, took the trophy for best first feature, while The Woodsman won the festival's Satyajit Ray award for a first feature that "reflects the artistry, compassion and humanity" of the late Indian director's work.
Cowell sued for Idol rival show
Simon Fuller, creator of U.K. talent show Pop Idol and its U.S. spinoff American Idol, is suing his former collaborators, including Simon Cowell, claiming that Cowell's new project, The X Factor, is a rip-off of the Idol format, Reuters reports. The X Factor, which premiered on U.K. broadcaster ITV last Saturday, follows a panel of judges--including the infamously acerbic Cowell as well as Sharon Osbourne--who select wannabe stars from hundreds of hopefuls. In its later stages, the show pits the judges against one another when each has to act as a mentor to their preferred candidate. Fuller's production company 19 TV said in a statement it sued the makers of The X Factor, Cowell and Fremantle Media, for copyright infringement and breach of contract. In response, a statement was issued Friday by Fremantle Media on behalf of itself and Cowell, saying it hopes to resolve the matter amicably, but would defend any legal action "vigorously" in court. It insisted that the shows are quite different, Reuters reports.
Tape released of former Jackson accuser's dad
NBC's Dateline has acquired tapes revolving around the 1993 case of child molestation against Michael Jackson, The Associated Press reports, in which the accuser's father talks about the case. The show played the tapes Friday, which they received from the boy's uncle a decade after the singer reached a settlement with the boy that included an agreement not to discuss the case. The boy's father said on one recording that he initially thought Jackson was harmless, and even felt bad for him. "He's childlike. He's a child. Nothing to fear. You put that together with the way he looks ... and you feel sorry for him. OK. And you know that he--this tells you that he grew up an intensely lonely person." The father eventually grew more suspicious of the singer. Authorities were investigating the allegations when the singer reached a settlement with his accuser, paying him a sum reported at $15 million to $20 million.
Leigh's Drake wins in Venice
Mike Leigh's Vera Drake, the tale of a good Samaritan abortionist, was the Venice International Film Festival's big winner, scooping the Golden Lion and also the best actress award for Imelda Staunton, Variety reports. "In a cynical world, it is a wonderful thing, and most reassuring, when low budget, serious committed, independent, European films are recognized," said Leigh. Other winners included Alejandro Amenabar's The Sea Inside, about a quadriplegic who wants to die by euthanasia, which took the Jury Grand Prize and gave its star, Javier Bardem, the Coppa Volpi for best actor. The Special Director's prize went to Korean helmer Kim Ki-duk's 3-iron, a romance in which a nomadic serial squatter falls in love with a woman he finds in one of the houses he breaks into.
Grace wins in Deauville
Maria Full of Grace, a documentary-like tale of the travails of a teenage drug runner from Colombia from first-time filmmaker Joshua Marston, took the top prize at the Deauville Film Festival in France, AP reports. Nicole Kassell's The Woodsman, starring Kevin Bacon as a child molester trying to build a new life after 12 years in prison, won the festival's jury prize. The 30-year-old festival at the Normandy resort, which started Sept. 3, is a European showcase for mainly American movies.
C-3PO actor talks Revenge of the Sith
Anthony Daniels, best known for voicing Star Wars robot C-3PO, said the final installment in the prequel's trilogy is his favorite. "I finished filming on the last film last week," the 58-year-old actor told Reuters in an interview. "The first film spoke to everyone on the planet. It still works as a funny, bright movie. It still has legs." Revenge of the Sith, set for release in May 2005, tells the back story of the original Star Wars movie about a battle between good and evil in a distant galaxy. Anthony added the final scenes were emotionally tough on him. "He (C-3PO) has been a best friend for me. He is going to live forever in the ether." The worldwide DVD launch of the first three movies, meanwhile, is set for Sept. 21.
P. Diddy looks for all-girl band
For the third season of Sean P. Diddy Combs' MTV reality series Making the Band, the music mogul has decided to search for the next girl band. In the show's second installment, Combs developed the now-disbanded hip-hop group Da Band, who could never seem to get their act together. Auditions for singers and musicians for the as-yet-unnamed group are scheduled for the first two weeks in October in Los Angeles, Miami and New York City, AP reports. The second incarnation of Making the Band will premiere next year on MTV.
Broadway lyricist Ebb dies
Fred Ebb, who wrote the lyrics for the hit Broadway musicals Chicago and Cabaret as well as the big-city anthem New York, New York, died of a heart attack Saturday at his home in New York. Ebb was believed to be 76, although he was "sweetly vague" about his age, director Scott Ellis, who worked with him on several shows, told the AP. At the time of his death, Ebbs and longtime collaborator John Kander were working on several projects including revising Over and Over, a musical version of Thornton Wilder's classic The Skin of Our Teeth and a murder-mystery musical called Curtains. Funeral services will be Tuesday.
Sundance Film Festival officials have announced entries for dramatic, documentary and "American Spectrum" categories of the 2004 festival, which runs Jan. 15 through Jan. 25 in Park City, Utah.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the competitive categories at this year's festival include big-name actors appearing in films by relatively unknown directors, and a record-breaking number of projects from black filmmakers and projects influenced by Sept. 11:
Actor Kevin Bacon and his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, star alongside hip-hop artist Mos Def in The Woodsman, directed by Nicole Kassel. It revolves around a convicted pedophile who returns to his hometown after 12 years in prison and tries to start a new life.
Courteney Cox Arquette stars in November, directed by Greg Harrison, about a Los Angeles photographer who struggles to put the tragic circumstances of her boyfriend's death behind her.
John Curran's Adultery, starring Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Peter Krause and Naomi Watts, follows two couples who are friends and whose relationships are intertwined.
Writer/director Rodney Evans' Brother to Brother is about an 18-year-old, gay, black artist who discovers the hidden legacies of gay and lesbian subcultures within the Harlem Renaissance. The film is one of a dozen projects that center on the black experience or are by black filmmakers--the most ever on a Sundance roster, according to the Reporter.
"We have 12 features that are either about, produced by or directed by African-American filmmakers," Festival director Geoff Gilmore said. "What's good is that it indicates that there are a lot of African-American filmmakers working in the independent arena because these are works that would not have been made for studios. It's really of interest to me to see a whole range of people now trying to produce independent work."
Gilmore added that some of the entries in this year's festival are the first generation of post-Sept. 11 films. "These are films by filmmakers that were entirely conceived, developed and then produced following those events," Gilmore told the Reporter. "The insularity of America pre-Sept. 11 and the assuredness that existed in the world at that time followed by the anxiety that exists in the world we are in now. These are films about trying to find things out."
The lineup for the festival's remaining categories and the opening night film are expected to be announced later today. Short films appearing at the festival will be announced Dec. 8.
The Best Thief in the World, Jacob Kornbluth
Book of Love, Alan Brown
Brother to Brother, Rodney Evans
Chrystal, Ray McKinnon
Down to the Bone, Debra Granik
Easy, Jane Weinstock
Evergreen, Enid Zentelis
Garden State, Zach Braff
Harry and Max, Christopher Munch
Maria Full of Grace, Joshua Marston
Napoleon Dynamite, Jared Hess
November, Greg Harrison
One Point O, Jeff Renfroe, MarteinnThorsson
Primer, Shane Carruth
Adultery, John Curran
The Woodsman, Nicole Kassell
A Place of Our Own, Stanley Nelson
Born Into Brothels, Ross Kauffman, ZanaBriksi
Chisholm '72 -- Unbought & Unbossed, Shola Lynch
Dig, Ondi Timoner
Farmingville, Catherine Tambini, Carlos Sandoval
The Fight, Barak Goodman
Heir to an Execution, Ivy Meeropol
Home of the Brave, Paola di Florio
I Like Killing Flies, Matt Mahurin
Imelda, Ramona S. Diaz
In the Realms of the Unreal, Jessica Yu
Deadline, Katy Chevigny, Kirsten Johnson
Neverland: The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army, Robert Stone
Persons of Interest, Alison Maclean, Tobias Perse
Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock
Word Wars, Julian Petrillo
CSA: Confederate States of America, Kevin Willmott
Dandelion, Mark Milgard
Dirty Work, David Sampliner
Everyday People, Jim McKay
Lbs., Matthew Bonifacio
Let the Church Say Amen, David Petersen
Mean Creek, Jacob Aaron Estes
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky
MVP, Harry Davis
Open Water, Chris Kentis
Second Best, Eric Weber
September Tapes, Christian Johnston
Speak, Jessica Sharzer
Directed second feature, "A Little Bit of Heaven".
Made feature screenwriting and directing debut with "The Woodsman."
Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
"It’s a horrific crime, and if anyone did it to my own or anyone close to me, I would want to kill them." - Kassell, to New York Magazine, on how she feels about the subject matter of pedophilia in "The Woodsman." (http://nymag.com/nymetro/movies/features/10751/)
"I was shocked that that many girls showed up. They all knew what it was about; that was important to me." - Kassell, to the Los Angeles Times, on her conflicted feelings about auditioning young girls for "The Woodsman" (Nov. 14, 2004, http://articles.latimes.com/2004/nov/14/entertainment/ca-woodsman14/2).