Actor Dan Gerrity has died at the age of 59. The New Jersey native suffered a fatal heart attack in Santa Fe, New Mexico on 20 November (13).
He established himself in theatre in the 1980s, starring in productions of Cliff Jones musical Something's Rockin' in Denmark and Ionescopade, while he later appeared in the critically-acclaimed Bouncers in 1986 and in Stand-Up Tragedy in 1990.
Gerrity also enjoyed a career onscreen, appearing on hit sitcoms Cheers, The King of Queens and Frasier, while he exercised his dramatic chops with roles in Dallas, Knots Landing, Murder One and The West Wing.
He also featured in 2008 movie Swing Vote and in last year's (12) Robert Redford film, The Company You Keep.
As the winds of award show nominations pick up, you won't be surprised to find 12 Years a Slave at the top of every list. But the Academy, the Golden Globes, and the various other captains of the circuit are inclined to overlook some of our smaller, more personal favorites in lieu of the big, grand, and wholly unavoidable awardable pictures like Steven McQueen's American slavery epic. That is not to rob 12 Years of Slave of its due credit — the film absolutely deserves as much awards attention as it is getting. It's simply the sort of movie that you know will get awards attention right out of the gate... whereas pictures just as pristine such as Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig's Frances Ha, likely won't be the center of attention come Oscar night. But that's what the Independent Spirit Awards are for: to recognize the movies that we cherish with intimacy rather than with grandeur. Among them are Frances Ha, new release Nebraska, Robert Redford's nearly wordless All Is Lost (also a viable candidate for the Academy, due to its own dezzling veneer), the Coen Bros' upcoming Inside Llewyn Davis, and, yes, of course, 12 Years a Slave.
Check out the full list of nods below.
BEST FEATURE 12 Years A Slave All Is Lost Frances Ha Inside Llewyn Davis Nebraska
BEST LEAD FEMALE Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine Julie Delpy, Before Midnight Gaby Hoffman, Crystal Fairy Brie Larson, Short Term 12 Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now
BEST LEAD MALE Bruce Dern, Nebraska Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club Robert Redford, All Is Lost
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE Melonie Diaz, Fruitvale StationSally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave Yolanda Ross, Go For Sisters June Squibb, Nebraska
BEST SUPPORTING MALE Michael Fassbender, 12 Years A Slave Will Forte, Nebraska James Gandolfini, Enough Said Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club Keith Stanfield, Short Term 12
BEST DIRECTOR Shane Carruth, Upstream Color J.C. Chandor, All Is Lost Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave Jeff Nichols, Mud Alexander Payne, Nebraska
BEST FIRST FEATUREBlue Caprice Concussion Fruitvale Station Una Noche Wadjda
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD Computer Chess Crystal Fairy Museum Hours Pit Stop This Is Martin Bonner
BEST SCREENPLAY Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater, Before Midnight Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, The Spectacular Now John Ridley, 12 Years A Slave
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY Lake Bell, In A World Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don Jon Bob Nelson, Nebraska Jill Soloway, Afternoon Delight Michael Starburry, The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister & Pete
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHYSean Bobbitt, 12 Years A Slave Benoit Debie, Spring Breakers Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis Frank G. Demarco, All Is Lost Matthias Grunsky, Computer Chess
BEST EDITING Shane Carruth & David Lowery, Upstream Color Jem Cohen & Marc Vives, Museum Hours Jennifer Lame, Frances Ha Cindy Lee, Una Noche Nat Sanders, Short Term 12
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM A Touch Of Sin Blue Is The Warmest ColorGloriaThe Great Beauty The Hunt
BEST DOCUMENTARYThe Act Of Killing After Tiller Gideon's ArmyThe Square Twenty Feet From Stardom
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARDToby Halbrooks & James M. JohnsonJacob JaffkeAndrea RoaFerderick Thornton
TRUER THAN FICTION AWARDS Kalyanee Mam, A River Changes Course Jason Osder, Let The Fire Burn Stephanie Spray & Pancho Valez, Manakamana
SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARDS Aaron Douglas Johnston, My Sisters' Quinceanera Shaka King, Newlyweeds Madeleine Olnek, The Foxy Merkins
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARDMud
Sir Elton John triumphed on the tennis court in an annual charity game on Sunday (17Nov13) and helped raise more than $700,000 (£466,000) for charity. The Rocket Man co-hosted the 21st annual Mylan World TeamTennis Smash Hits match with legendary player Billie Jean King, who he went on to beat on the court at the event in Orlando, Florida.
His team, comprising of Andy Roddick, Venus Williams, Robert Kendrick and Vicky Duval, smashed King's 24-18.
The $700,000 raised by the event will be split between the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Hope and Help Center of Central Florida, which also offers treatment and education to people suffering from the disease.
Veteran movie star Bruce Dern is convinced shooting John Wayne in the back in The Cowboys wrecked his film career because he became known as the man who killed The Duke. The 77 year old was on course to join pals like Jack Nicholson and Robert Redford on Hollywood's A-list but struggled to find work after his character, Long Hair, shot Wayne's Wil Anderson in the 1972 western.
He recalls, "It was 8.30 in the morning when we did the scene, Wayne was incredibly s**tfaced (drunk) on Wild Turkey, a bottle and a half. I could smell it on him, and he leans into me and says, 'Oh, how they're gonna hate you for this'."
Dern, who is the father of actress Laura Dern, reveals Wayne was right and for years strangers would approach him in the street and say, "You killed my buddy!"
Movie fans are starting to come up to him in the street again, but this time they are full of compliments for his latest role in acclaimed new Alexander Payne movie Nebraska, in which he plays a deluded old man who believes he's won $1 million and must travel from his home in Montana to Nebraska to collect the money.
He tells Rolling Stone magazine, "You walk down the street and people come up and shake your hand. I never had this happen except for when I killed John Wayne and they they just go... 'You f**king b**tard!'"
Dern picked up the Best Actor award at France's Cannes Film Festival for his role in Nebraska and now he is a frontrunner for a top Oscar prize next year (14).
Getting the likes of Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, and Kevin Kline in one film should be a recipe for a rousing success, and in many ways throughout Last Vegas, the casting is very successful. The main cast gives everything actors can really contribute to a film, and they excel as well as they can with what they're given. But the film shows that, at the end of the day, the script is king, and Last Vegas falters because its dreadfully weak writing hinders some fun performances.
Like another Vegas comedy, to which comparisons are unavoidable, the film centers around a bachelor party. Billy (Douglas) is trying to hold onto his youth with the grip of an iron vice. He's engaged to a much younger woman and decides that his wedding is the perfect time to rekindle his relationship with his three best friends, a group friendship that has frayed over the years. Archie (Freeman), Paddy (De Niro) and Sam (Kline) pack up to experience a weekend full of geriatric high jinks before Billy's wedding. Each of the four characters travels to Vegas with a certain amount of baggage stowed away in the carry-on compartment, and it's all related to aging, but the resolution to all of these character threads ends way too predictably. The first resolution to each of their stories that swirls around in your head while watching will undoubtedly be the one that pops up on screen before the credits roll.
One of the biggest sins Last Vegas makes is that it's just not all that funny, and the problem lies in the script. The film seems content with telling the same joke about old people over and over again, ad nauseam. It can barely mine humor from any other source besides the characters' advanced ages, pounding that theme into your head like a pulsing jackhammer. Jokes are fired at a machine gun pace, but so many of them fall ridiculously flat. Even when the cast is able to sell some of the feeble punchlines, they still aren't very clever or memorable. If anything, it makes it clear to see why these actors are as celebrated as they are. They all posses a serious amount of charm that bounces across the screen and makes the duds clank a little less loudly.
In fact, any enjoyment to be had from Last Vegas stems solely from the performances of the principal men, and sultry lounge singer Diana (Mary Steenburgen). All five actors possess a natural chemistry that carries the film's limp material around long after the script has forgotten how to be clever. They all have an excitable energy that permeates the rest of the film, but energy means little when they aren't saying anything particularly interesting. During the film, you're never quite bored or offended, but you're never excited either. It just chugs along in a miasma of general competence but not much else.
Last Vegas isn't quite dead on arrival but it's no a spring chicken either. Its high points ride on the backs of its stars' finely aged charisma, and much of the pleasing aspects that exist in Last Vegas would still be intact if the film just consisted of the actors sitting in a room, chewing the fat with each other without a script or direction. At the very least, they would have fewer stupid things to say. What happened in Vegas probably should have stayed there.
Julianna Margulies and Chris Noth got their hands dirty on Saturday (26Oct13) as they joined forces with their The Good Wife co-stars to help rebuild New York homes damaged by last year's (12) superstorm Sandy. Josh Charles, Archie Panjabi and Zach Grenier were also among the charitable actors pitching in with the St. Bernard Project in the Rockaways area of Queens on the first anniversary of the natural disaster, which lashed America's East Coast with heavy rain and strong winds.
During the visit the castmembers, along with show creators Robert and Michelle King, presented charity officials with a cheque for over $77,000 (£51,330) to aid their ongoing recovery work.
The group outing also served as a celebration to mark The Good Wife's 100th episode, which aired in America on Sunday night (27Oct13).
It wasn't the first time Margulies and her pals had offered their support to the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts - they previously headed to the Big Apple in the days after the storm to lend a hand.
Actor Forest Whitaker is set to receive the Kirk Douglas Award For Excellence In Film at the eighth annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The Last King of Scotland star will be feted at the event in California on 15 December (13).
Announcing this year's recipient, movie veteran Kirk Douglas says, "Forest Whitaker is an exceptional man and actor. His commitment to human causes, his passion for what is right, and his dedication to his craft are inspirational and at my age, inspiration is rare."
Previous recipients include Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas and Harrison Ford.
Meanwhile, Whitaker has also been handed the Black Pearl Career Achievement Award at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, which began on Thursday (24Oct13).
Robert Downey, Jr. has been crowned Hollywood's Most Valuable Star for the second consecutive year in a new magazine poll. The Iron Man actor retained his place at number one on the Vulture.com top 100 list, earning him the title of 'The King' by website editors, who took into account factors including film box office takings, studio value, and likeability with fans and critics alike for the countdown.
He beat Leonardo DiCaprio, who was ranked in second place, followed by The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence in third.
Sandra Bullock and Brad Pitt rounded out the top five, while Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks all feature in the top 10.
Time & Life Pictures
After taking on Nixon, JFK, George W. Bush, and September 11th, filmmaker Oliver Stone, along with potential star Jamie Foxx, might be DreamWorks' choice to bring Martin Luther King Jr.'s life to the screen, as reported by The Playlist. So far, it's not clear exactly how much or what part of King's life DreamWorks is looking to focus on, but Stone is well known for his long, ambling biopics, particularly of political figures.
Stone doesn't shy away from tough topics. If he's at the helm, he's going to want to tackle some of the more complex issues and potentially make large assumptions and leaps to serve his narrative. The man was able to make a film with some pathos for then-current president Bush, so this certainly won't be a slam piece on one of the great American icons and heroes. But the MLK estate has been very tough on films looking to portray the more sordid aspects of King's story, like his alleged infidelity. And with members of the King family working with DreamWorks and against rival projects (including ones from Paul Greengrass and Lee Daniels) it suggests that this may be a more sanitized vision then Stone is used to. Not only would Stone likely rankle at such demands, but erasing the complexity from MLK makes the whole film kind of pointless. Can we not handle a vision of King that paints him as something other than a martyr?
We remember Spike Lee's Malcolm X as a great film because Lee was able to work with Alex Healy/Malcom X's fantastic book, which was open about the various vices in the activist's past. It didn't hurt that the movie was blessed with Denzel Washington's amazing performance.
Now, Jamie Foxx doesn't really resemble King, but his quiet dignity mixed with deep, deep, anger and pain in last year's Django Unchained was a level of subtlety he hasn't shown since his Oscar-winning turn in Ray back in 2005. But after seeing Foxx's goofy side this summer in White House Down, his striking dissimilarities from King could really derail this film, and it doesn't really make sense why he's the top choice. But clearly DreamWorks is looking for a star, and most of the other bona fide black stars are either too old to play the 39-year-old King, have already played another distinct historical figure, or both.
What's frustrating is that there is so much room for more interpretations of King's life. Richard Nixon, for example, was not only the subject of one of Stone's lengthy films, but also has appeared in documentaries, other narratives, dramas, onstage (in the superb Frost/Nixon, which, by the way, was also turned into an Oscar nominated film), in comedies like Dick, graphic novels, and even an opera. He's been portrayed as a genius, an idiot, a crook, a coward, a fool, a hero, an opportunist, a good president, bad president, good person, and bad person. There's a wealth of creative material all based around or involving his life. Martin Luther King Jr. is a figure as large as Nixon, and like all people, was just as complex, but we rarely get to see a true representation of what that might have been like.
In short, while it's all well and good that filmmakers are interested in bringing MLK to the screen, it might not be possible for a divisive director like Stone and a potentially miscast star like Foxx to make this film a worthy one. And if it is regarded poorly, that might lead his family to become even more protective of his amazing story.
Not to mention, Drunk History did it first.
Actor Forest Whitaker is set to receive the Actor Tribute prize at the 2013 Gotham Independent Film Awards. The Last King of Scotland star will be feted on 02 December (13) in New York.
A statement from Executive Director of the Independent Filmmaker Project Joana Vicente reads, "We are thrilled to pay honor to a man whose work has played a significant role in the film world over the last 25 years.
"Breaking boundaries and challenging audiences with complex, multi-faceted roles, Forest Whitaker is a significant independent voice whose performances have only been elevated by his visionary work as a producer, director and humanitarian."
Previous recipients include Matt Damon, Robert Duvall, Natalie Portman, Penelope Cruz and Kate Winslet.