February 11, 2011 9:27am EST
Fox Searchlight took its indie comedy Cedar Rapids all the way to the Sundance Film Festival last month to show an eager audience what producer Alexander Payne, director Miguel Arteta and star Ed Helms had cooked up. Luckily for you, the studio had always planned on giving the rest of the country a look at the film just a few weeks after the Park City, Utah festival concluded.
Cedar Rapids is now playing in limited release and I was fortunate to get the chance to talk to some of its cast and crew at a recent New York press event. Click here for my review of the film and read on below for exclusive interviews with Arteta, Anne Heche and Isiah Whitlock Jr., who play strong supporting characters in the crazy convention comedy.
Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Ronald wasn't really the funny character in the film, but I found it really ironic and quite hilarious that he kept referencing the The Wire, which you had a recurring role in. What was that like for you?
You know, when I got the script and I first read that in there, it did run across my mind as “how do you go about making this work” without it coming off as a "wink-wink" moment because I didn’t want to be part of that. As far as I was concerned, The Wire for me is done. That's not something to carry over; we were off into something totally different. That being said when you put it in the context of the character - who he is and where he’s from and what he is all about - then you begin to see how it works. So trying to stay focused on that, "it's the character doing it, it's not me," is not something I’ve done in the past. Then it begins to work and I think one of the great things for me is that if you know The Wire, the moment really works. If you don’t know The Wire and you don’t know me, the moment still works. It just works in a totally different way, but the effect is still going to be there because people are so blown away and shocked that that's what would happen with this character when he tries to rescue them out of the meth house. By knowing The Wire, it's kind of a treat to see it in that context and it still works. I’m happy, I know Ed had talked about wanting to get rid of it when I came on board and that I understand because the movie is not about that, but I’m glad they kept that moment in because it's sort of that final piece to the arc for that character.
The tone was perfect, it was not mocking but it was just sort of a nod, it wasn’t a cheap.
And right before that moment, I peak in to see what's going on and there's that slight moment of "oh my god, what do we do" and this is the only thing that we can do thats going to get us out of that and back into the van.
Now you just talked about how this came up while you were shaping the character. Can you talk a bit more about how you created the character? I couldn’t help but think of Cleveland from Family Guy because Ron was very mellow. I don’t know if that went into your mind, but what did?
This is going to sound really bad, but I’ve never seen Family Guy.
He’s totally a non-confrontational character, so much so to the point that his wife cheats on him with his best friend and he lets it go. He's a passive guy, uber-friendly almost to the point that it's not healthy. That works against the character but it made him more endearing. I got a similar feeling from Ron, and now that I know you've never seen Family Guy I'm curious to know what your influences were in shaping him?
A lot of that has to do with the script. Phil Johnston’s writing; there were times when I would want to go off in a different direction that I really needed Miguel’s help to guide me back to make sure I stayed on point. It's like, "This is the character we’re trying to create here. You can do that; you can do the character but you have to make sure you stay on point. We can’t have him reveal this inner thing too early on." I was really thankful that Miguel would reel me back in. Sometimes, in like the bar scene, we’re doing shots and I kind of go to the way I would take a shot. And he would say, "In this next take, I want to calm him down a little. You’re having too good of a time. Sometimes you start coming off as Deansy (John C. Reilly's character)". I’m going to do shot the way I know how to do shot and have a good time. I had to keep pulling him back in. After a while now I begin to see how we’re going with this guy. The other thing, I know so many guys who are like Ron in this movie. And I remember this one time I was telling a friend how people always see west coast, east coast, especially for African American guys with attitudes and I know so many guys that are just not like that. So one of the things I wanted to do was break that a little bit. Because growing up in Indiana and going to college in Minnesota, I’ve come across a fair amount of, it's almost like, theres no word for it, but I can play it and I can put my finger on it and say this is what it is. And I felt that way with Clay Davidson. I dont think I can label it but I can show you what it is.
You came into a production filled with some comic geniuses. Was it a fun film to make?
Well you know, that kind of helped my character in a way. One - I’m gonna be on the set, I know I can’t compete with their ability to do comedy. I don’t want to sell myself short but they’re geniuses. What they could do at times off the cuff and make it look so effortless it would take me a day to think about.
Did it help you define the character, being able to work off them?
It did, because I would sit and watch and enjoy what they’re doing. But that's kind of what the character does in the movie. He’s reactionary. You’re just hanging back, you have your moments. But it was a joy to watch and be around. Just the way they work. I got an incredible education in comedy while they were just doing they're thing. There was no showing up and saying "we’re going to be doing a comedy," it was like "we’re going to do business as usual, but on top of that we’re going to be funny."
And that's the great thing about the dramedy. Independent film has become a melding of genres, which is a good thing. You can’t put a label on everything. Can you clarify Ron’s relationship with Tim? They alluded to a closeted homosexuality with Tim, I don’t know if it was intentional. I read it as jealousy, like he wanted something more with the guy. Maybe I read it wrong.
I don’t think it was that. What I do feel that Ron wanted to, it's kind of like, I like him and I don’t want to see him get hurt or corrupted or go down this sort of path that I know he’s sorely lacking in the skills to do that. I know he’s sorely lacking in the skllls to do 20 shots or hang out with prostitutes, so I was kind of like it's more like a big brother. And then Deansy comes in and trying to balance it out. "Calm down, calm down, we don’t have to get into that." I could handle it, but I know right off the bat that Tim is out of his league.
That speaks to the character, more like a big brother. Deansy was a bad influence, as was Joan to a lesser extent.
He needed to be anchored because you get in with the wrong crowd, the next thing you know you’re doing meth. The fact that it happens to him quickly is funnny, but you see him spiraling out of control. I was trying to be the guy holding things down. And still be at the convention and have all the fun that everyone else is having. I want to get up and go to the breakfast and have a few drinks at the bar. You’re at a convention. I said it reminded me of guys who play golf, but I remember when I started playing, people would ask how is it playing golf and I would say I never knew people acted in such a juvenile way. It's always like you want to say, "do you really act like that in life, do you really cheat like that? When is a four foot putt a gimme?" I’ve seen Tiger Woods miss those. People come to a convention and want to cut loose and act silly and say all kinds of things, it's kind of like people going to a super bowl party. People getting wasted. But I just found that if Ron was a little bit controlled, I would be happy with him.
Do you think Ron missed his calling as a gangster?
Not any more than we all did. We all live vicariously through the gangsters. I think that's what fascinates people with the mob, The Sopranos and Goodfellas, and the great one The Godfather. We live vicariously through them. And I could see why people would live vicariously through characters in The Wire. No one would do that, but he says "I’m a big fan of the critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire."
Have you kept up with any of the HBO shows since The Wire ended and, if so, what do you like?
I did watch Treme because one, the show is terrific and two, it's David Simon’s new show. Boardwalk Empire, I like. I try to watch as much as I possibly can. And then I was on Rubicon which was on AMC.
I loved that show too. What was your experience with that like?
One of the things I loved about it, it didn’t shoot in the major NY locations. It shot in the back alleys. But people would come up and say, I really feel bad the show is canceled. You know it's part of the game. You do the good ones, you do some that dont make it. You move on. You accept that it's part of the game. Things are not always going to be like The Wire. But you need to be thankful you got a chance to do that. I can say I was apart of something really really good and that will carry me through the rest of my life.
Is it easy reuniting with actors you’ve worked with previously? In this case, John. What's that like after so many years?
Well John C. Reilly and I have been looking for something to do since The Good Girl but it's hard to find a character that John hasn’t done already. But when this Deansy character came up it was awesome because here’s somebody who has to be a complete loud mouth but also feels the pain of his divorce and is poignant. And those extremes I hoped John would react to. This is going to be a fun character to play. And it's not just a cartoonish character at all; the bitterness of that divorce is behind every line in the film.
It grounded the character and obviously you needed something to ground Deansy because otherwise he was just spewing raunch and debauchery the whole time. Switching gears really quickly, what was it that drew you to the project?
It was Ed and the script. The script had genuine affection for its characters. He’d have fun with his characters but never make fun of them. Which as a director is what you want. You do not find this every day. You can tell by the way he names the characters, Bill Krogstad, Dean Zeigler, he really loves his characters and that was the reason I wanted to sign in. But Ed in this part was really exciting. He has this quality almost like a Jack Lemmon, of being an everyday guy, wholesome, but also has a comedic edge. You don’t see that often. And the story was perfect for me. Particularly the art of being kind underneath not being a chump.
There was a lot of morality and themes in it; not like some conventional comedies. Ed’s man-child growth, corporate corruption, seperation of church and career, was that all from the script or did you balance it yourself?
It was there in the script and I loved all of it. Find out what the priorities are and look deeply into people and see what their priorities are because appearances are misleading. What I loved about it was that he looks at these people that are so different from him, it's like the Wizard of Oz of insurance. He goes and finds these three motley characters, he needs them and they need him. And they’re all so different but they become friends because he’s able to look and realize these people have the same priorities, even though one is foul mouthed and one is a very confused house wife and one is extremely timid. They all share the same priorities and I love that about the film. It's a movie about recognizing, being able to look deeper into people and recognizing what's really important.
Everyone brought a different comedic style. Ed is the sheltered man-child, then John's Deansy, the insurance all-star differed from and Isiash's sensibilities, which was very reserved and calm. How do you balance a scene, like some of the bar scenes, and comedy in them when you have all these different styles.
Well the contrast makes it really fun, the fact that you can’t imagine they could find common ground then they do. the more different they are the more exciting it is, just to see them find common ground. Ed had something interesting, he told me three years ago that he would be in a movie with John C. Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr. That's a pretty strange cast and that's the loveliness of the movie; it finds this motely crew on the ground. I wanted to capture what it's like to have that moment of surprise when out of nowhere you make a lifelong friend. It can happen at any time and when it does those first few days when you connect with that person and realize this person is going to be a friend for life, there’s madness and fun and those memorable first few days are what I wanted to capture.
The film is loaded with cameos, Rob Corddry, Thomas Lennon, and more. How did it all come together? I almost wanted to see more Corrdry’s drug pushers.
Ed has a lot of fans and John as well, and Ed knew Rob from The Daily Show. And he said let's have Rob do something a little different. He came out and hung out with us for three nights and it was awesome to see him do a scary guy. And Tom and I were friends with someone so it was nice to bring him in and do something different. He usually doesnt play the alpha male.
That was definitely a departure for him. Humor from an unlikely place.
It's kinda like things are big for Tim, someone so sheltered and afraid to leave home. The fact that having a red car blows his mind, the little thigns are huge for him.
Speaking of sheltered, there's an innocence about small town USA wouldn’t have been in the film if it was set in NYC. One of the benefits of having a film set in and about Main Street America.
I think it cuts away some of the bullshit. I’m kind of personally tired of super-hipster comedies that try to shock people. Comedy has become almost too hip and I love the idea of doing a wholesome comedy with a little foul language and little sex, but generally speaking not your super hip-comedy and if I see another comedy set in LA I think I’ll shoot myself. I think going into another world is very refreshing and it takes a bit of the hipness out of it. I may be against the norm, but things are working out for me. You need to make movies for the things you need. It's like cooking. You cook and make it taste good for you and hope people like it.
This is definitely not a mainstream comedy, being set in Cedar Rapids and about insurance salesmen. What challenges did that present?
You have to get to know the world and it helped to know the place and what it's like to be from the midwest. Reilly is from Chicago, Anne is from Ohio and the writer is from Wisconsin; he was a meterologist in Wisconsin. So I had a lot of help keeping it in that world. We did shoot in the midwest, we shot in Ann Arbor. The conventioneers, a very important part, they were wonderful and added a distinct midwestern flavor to it.
Can you give some updates on developing projects. Most recently we heard you were attached to Fat Man with Adam Sandler...
Not attached. I was given the script and think it's wonderful. It's hilarious. The character is super-intelligent and funny and a most unlikely character. I’m in love with it and I hope he has the gumption to do it, but I’m not doing it. I spent last year working on a TV show with Mike White that he wrote for Laura Dern and Luke Wilson called Enlightened that will premiere on HBO this summer. Mike White is my favorite writer and wrote ten episodes. I’m really jazzed about that. It's a real, original TV series. I’m very excited about it.
You’ve been working on projects with very specific alternative settings for a while now. Men In Trees, Hung, now this. What is it about enclosed communities that is so attractive to talent and what makes them endearing?
I think that any time you take a big concept and put it into a small group it's an easier way to digest the human story. None of these are big action romps, these are human stories. Hung, certainly Detroit, was a very particular desired look, with what was going on with the economic crisis so that backed it up. To play those small town characters, I loved talking to people who have a dream to get out of the small place and to play a person who had such a dream and got stuck. And it's just wonderfully complicated. She’s again, a woman who is in a place of her choice. John has a strength that my character doesn’t have and it's one of the reasons I love going from the innocence of the girl I play in Hung, who doesn’t have a choice to look at the world any other way.
She looks at the world and what's happening and absorbs it and deals, thats how Jessica deals with it. Joan on the other hand is a very strong woman who knows exactly what she's doing and she's made her choices and she knows how to survive them. I thought that was an amazing way to approach someone who could have some judgment, but I found her to be very centered and very strong in making choices that may not be right for anyone but her family. And the way she survives it and makes her world work was very interesting to me. She's still a woman who lives within her boundaries and the context of her rules. Playing characters is always so wonderful because they all have different shapes and forms, literal boundaries around their emotions and boundaries around their physical being. So to play an insurance salesmen, a committed mother and wife, a person who is in the MidWest who's morally bound by her land, I do feel like women in the MidWest are centered in their faith, centered in their roles for themselves. They’re appropriate.
Their rules or societies rules?
A combination of both. Midwesterner's are centered in their faith in a good way. I really wanted to portray that. I grew up a little town in Ohio. I see it in my sisters. My oldest sister is a very very centered, grounded, midwestern woman that made choices not everyone would necessarily agree with. I liked Joan's strengths within the boundaries. She's the wild woman in the movie but she’s not an actress that goes out on a Saturday night. She’s Joan Ostrowski-Fox, she has a containment that I thought was really interesting to play.
Shes living a life that she can’t escape.
Not fully, but I never wanted Joan to want to fully escape. She doesn’t want to leave her life, she has a way that she deals with her life and it's this one weekend every year. It's a little bit of a play on gender and an understanding that men go away and it's ok if they have affairs. We somehow accept that, strangely. I don't even know why our society is like "oh yeah, that happens but we don't think that way about women" so we wanted to play with that.
This isn't your first time working with Alexander Payne, who produced this as well as Hung. What's that relationship like?
Well Alexander directed the pilot of Hung as well as produced it, and I wasn’t on board with the intial pilot. I was off shooting a movie and then I came on after and they replaced the girl with me and Alexander and I got to work in a really amazing fast-paced environment. We put these things in the pilot with Tom in that story and he and I had so much fun really playing together. I was so moved by the fact that they asked me to do it. I met them and I was nine months pregnant and was going to give birth in two days and I said I could do it and I don't know how they believe me, but everyone somehow supported me. I could work things off after I gave birth so when I came waddling on to the set seven days after and Thomas and I were doing these incredibly emotional scenes and Alex had come back to direct them.
Thomas then said he thought they found "the ex-wife" they needed and I felt so great and couldn’t believe the blessing in my life. Alexander was also thinking that the elements of his show were coming together and we were in a celebration. And then this movie came along and I walked into the room with a red wig on to say I think I see this character this way.
Joan is the strongest person in the film, I think. Funny, but not in an imposing way like Deansy. And she's grounded in her responsibilities. How do you ground her when she's in this hightened situation and as an actress how do you stay grounded working with Ed and John?
You always have to tell the truth when you're playing a character, no matter what that character is. I played this character on Ally McBeal that they had written for me, a woman with tourettes. How do you know what she's going to do or say. You figure out the boundaries first. You can’t curse on TV, you’ve gotta have some physical boundaries and you have to be funny. You have to create the tourettes around these boundaries and that's what makes it interesting. If you never set your rules, you’re never going to go outside of them. That's how you shape them, her physicality comes in, the look of her, everything comes in to shpae her from the ground up and inside. It's the same thing with the other character. She is a person I love and she has a role that suits a story so she is a being within this world who is also telling a larger story but the bigger story of these four unlikely people coming together to touch each other, move each other, and shape something that has changed their lives that they will have forever. Miguel wanted to make a movie about friendship, first and foremost.
Your backstory has a bigger effect on your character than the rest of the cast, except for Ed because we see his. Miguel thinks that Deansy's history was paramount to the character and I guess I sort of agree but not as much as I think that way about your character. How much of that came in handy during production?
Knowing who she is, once you figure out who you are, you are who you are. It's funny, younger actors ask me how do you stay in character. Once you figure out who you are you can’t lie. You should never be thinking about how you’re saying a line. No one else knows how you’re going to say your line. If your name is Jane, no one asks Jane if your going to pause before if, and, or but. So if you’re in that truth, you’re in the truth. You’re going to be, it doesn’t matter if the ceiling fell in.
It's not acting, it's becoming.
I used that once. You become. Don’t get flightly about it, you’re already doing it. If you’re thinking about it, you’re not it.
Where does Ed rank in your on cinematic love scenes?
That's a really hard question. I’ve worked with some of the world's sexiest men and that's an amazing thing to say. Also some of the world's greatest comedians. What's fun and difficult about creating a relationship in front of a camera is removing all of the things getting in the way of being in that relationship. No matter what it is. If it's Harrison Ford, the first movie i ever saw was Star Wars and I fell in love with movie. The trick to being on screen with him is to remove all of those things that are flying around in your head. Who ever thought in a million years I would be here. The same obstacles exist when you’re in a scene with Ed Helms. "Is this supposed to be a comedy? Wait a minute, he’s an innocent...is it supposed to funny? I thought it was the guy from The Hangover? My son just watched that, he shouldn’t have watched that, it's rated R." How do you remove all that and get to these two people in a pool. It was bad, looking into each others eyes to get to a moment where he embraces himself. How do I let him be enough? How do I remove myself enough to get to the final moment of this where he says "I want to make love," where we break through for his character. How can I remove myself enough to get there?
How does he rank? The same as everyone else. A wonderful partner. It was very fun for me and for everyone.
January 01, 2011 4:00am EST
Love was in the air in July as a host of celebrities walked down the aisle - Spanish stars Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem tied the knot in the Bahamas, while Emily Blunt became Mrs. John Krasinski after marrying The Office star in romantic Como, Italy.
A pregnant Alicia Keys said 'I do' to Swizz Beatz, while Orlando Bloom and Australian model Miranda Kerr became husband and wife in a secret ceremony. Wedding bells also rang in Georgia as country sweetheart Carrie Underwood married her hockey hunk, Mike Fisher.
But there was also plenty of heartache in Hollywood - Kelly Osbourne called off her engagement to model Luke Worrall over allegations he had cheated on her, and Frasier star Kelsey Grammer's wife filed for divorce after almost 13 years of marriage. R&B singer Christina Milian picked July to announce she was splitting from her producer husband The-Dream - less than a year after the couple wed in Las Vegas.
Celebrations were in order for Christina Applegate after she revealed she was pregnant with her first child, while Vince Vaughn, Zac Hanson, Ugly Betty star Becki Newton and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor also announced they were expecting babies with their respective partners.
Director Sam Taylor-Wood and Aaron Johnson became the proud parents of a baby girl - their first child together - while Australian pop star Dannii Minogue welcomed baby boy Ethan with her partner Kris Smith.
But July was not without scandal - Paris Hilton was questioned by authorities at the World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa over allegations she was smoking pot. Just two weeks later, she was held by police in France after she was allegedly caught carrying cannabis in her handbag.
The heiress' former pal Lindsay Lohan also hit headlines for all the wrong reasons - just days after turning 24, she was ordered to spend 90 days in jail for violating the terms of her probation stemming from a 2007 DUI arrest.
Former Wham! star George Michael also had a run-in with the law - he was arrested after driving his car into a shop in London, and Foxy Brown was also taken into custody after allegedly violating a protective order.
Meanwhile, Rosemary's Baby director Roman Polanski was freed from house arrest after officials in Switzerland threw out a request to extradite him to the U.S. for sentencing on a child-sex charge.
Mel Gibson's marital woes continued into July - Los Angeles police launched an official investigation amid claims the Braveheart star punched his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva during a heated altercation. It came after the leaking of a series of audio recordings in which a man said to be Gibson unleashes a series of foul-mouthed rants at his ex.
There was a health scare for British singer Cheryl Cole as she was diagnosed with malaria after collapsing at a photoshoot, while movie legends Tony Curtis and Zsa Zsa Gabor were also hospitalised. Pink was rushed to the emergency room after a stage stunt went wrong, sending the pop punk flying into a metal barrier during a concert in Germany.
Courtroom battles loomed for bad boy actor David Boreanaz, who was slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit from a former extra on his hit TV show Bones, and Casey Affleck, who was sued by a producer of his movie I'm Still Here over sexual harassment allegations.
There were festival dramas aplenty in August, with The Libertines and Guns N' Roses dominating headlines at Britain's Reading and Leeds weekenders. Pete Doherty's group reunited earlier this year (10) and played sets at the festivals - but their performances were blighted when overeager fans got crushed and trampled during the frenetic gigs, forcing the rockers off the stage to allow the revellers chance to recover. Axl Rose sparked an ongoing war-of-words with event boss Melvin Benn after he decided to shut the sound off when the band overran its curfew.
Further drama occurred in August when Naomi Campbell took to the stand in The Hague, Netherlands to testify at the war crimes trial of ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor, socialite Paris Hilton was arrested for cocaine possession in Las Vegas, and Charlie Sheen pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanour assault relating to a Christmas Day (25Dec09) fight with now-estranged wife Brooke Mueller. The Two And A Half Men actor was sentenced to 30 days in jail, but served time in rehab instead.
Another star seeking help for her personal issues was Lindsay Lohan. The Mean Girls actress walked free from prison before the end of her sentence for violating her probation relating to a 2007 DUI arrest, and immediately entered rehab - only to leave the health centre early as well.
Lohan's woes weren't the only ones in Hollywood - Zsa Zsa Gabor was in and out of hospital due to complications stemming from her summer accident which resulted in several bone fractures, while Aretha Franklin broke her ribs in a freak fall, prompting her to cancel a string of shows.
However, the biggest health shock of the month was the revelation that Michael Douglas had been diagnosed with a throat tumour. The Wall Street legend began radiation and chemotherapy shortly before going public with his battle and helped raise awareness of the disease by appearing on America's Stand Up 2 Cancer TV special to urge fans to raise cash for research.
There was happier health news for many in the public eye in August - Miranda Kerr, Penny Lancaster and Alanis Morissette all announced their pregnancies, while British Prime Minister David Cameron became a father again when his wife Samantha gave birth to their fourth child, Florence, while they were holidaying in Cornwall, south-west England.
Wedding bells were also chiming, with Hilary Duff walking down the aisle to marry ice hockey star Mike Comrie, veteran singer Julio Iglesias exchanging vows with his longtime girlfriend, and James Van Der Beek cementing his union with his then-pregnant girlfriend Kimberly Brook - they've since welcomed baby Olivia.
Lady Gaga was the big winner and talking point at the MTV Video Music Awards this month - she picked up eight accolades and stunned everyone by taking to the stage in a meat dress. Meanwhile, Penelope Cruz confirmed the news she was pregnant with Javier Bardem's baby, and Angelina Jolie - who visited flood-ravaged Pakistan - was named Best Celebrity Role Model in an online poll.
George Michael began his eight-week prison sentence in London after being found guilty of cannabis possession and driving under the influence of drugs, and Guns N' Roses were booed and bottled offstage in Ireland after making fans wait for their performance.
Smashing Pumpkins star Billy Corgan confirmed reports he was dating Aussie pop star Jessica Origliasso, and the Charlatans axed U.S. shows after Jon Brookes collapsed onstage during a concert in Pennsylvania. He was later diagnosed with a brain tumour..
Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen welcomed their second child, John Lennon's killer Mark Chapman was denied parole for a sixth time, and Sofia Coppola picked up the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival amid a storm of controversy - her ex-boyfriend, Quentin Tarantino, led the jury!
Meanwhile, Take That bandmates Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow performed together for the first time in 15 years at a benefit for injured British soldiers, but Duff McKagan quit Jane's Addiction after five months and just three gigs.
The Troggs star Reg Presley suffered a stroke while holidaying in Spain and country music duo Brooks & Dunn split after an emotional night at a Nashville charity gig.
Elsewhere, T.I. and his wife were arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of drug possession, UB40 star Ali Campbell was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr Syndrome, and Leonardo DiCaprio won a three-year restraining order against a woman claiming to be his wife.
Johnny Depp was named the highest paid actor by Forbes magazine, Britney Spears' one-time minder, Fernando Flores, filed suit against the pop star, claiming she had sexually harassed him and exposed herself in front of him, and The xx picked up Britain's prestigious Mercury Music Prize.
Eddie Vedder, Johnny Knoxville and David Essex wed - not to each other - and R&B star Lyfe Jennings was jailed for three and a half years over a violent altercation with his former girlfriend.
Meanwhile, James Gandolfini was caught driving on a suspended licence, Paris Hilton was refused entry to Japan; Kings of Leon star Caleb Followill and hot model Lily Aldridge announced their engagement, and actor Randy Quaid and his wife were arrested and charged with burglary amid allegations they had been illegally squatting in the house they once called home.
Actor Shelley Malil was convicted of attempted murder, Wyclef Jean announced he'd be running for presidential office in Haiti again in 2015 after his 2010 bid was dismissed, and comedian Greg Giraldo died in hospital after suffering an accidental drug overdose. Lindsay Lohan returned to rehab, David Beckham's lawyers served a writ to a hooker who claimed she'd slept with the soccer stud, and Heart rocker Nancy Wilson filed for divorce from moviemaker Cameron Crowe.
There was baby news for Mario Lopez, actresses Jodie Sweetin and Danica McKellar, actor James Van Der Beek, Rascal Flatts star Joe Don Rooney and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
ELO star Mike Edwards was killed in a freak accident, while veteran actors Harold Gould, Gloria Stuart and Kevin McCarthy also passed away along with legendary French director Claude Chabrol and filmmakers Arthur Penn and Clive Donner.
Other deaths included that of former boy band star Rich Cronin, who passed away after a stroke, aged 35, and Hollywood lost true legends in Eddie Fisher and Tony Curtis.
Celebrity break-ups were big news in October with a number of high-profile couples calling time on their relationship. Courteney Cox and David Arquette stunned the world by announcing they were taking a break from their 11-year marriage, and just days later singer Christina Aguilera confirmed her split from husband Jordan Bratman. Ben Harper and Laura Dern also filed for divorce after 10 years together.
But October also saw an influx of celebrity weddings - Katy Perry and Russell Brand sealed their love in a lavish Indian ceremony, and both Paul Weller and David Schwimmer hit the news when it emerged they had married their girlfriends in secret earlier in the year.
There was also plenty of baby news - Mariah Carey confirmed she is expecting her first child with husband Nick Cannon after months of speculation, while Celine Dion put the heartache of fertility treatment behind her to become a mum to twin boys. Hip-hop supercouple Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz welcomed a baby boy named Egypt and Neil Patrick Harris became father to twins born via a surrogate.
Britain was in mourning following the loss of comedy legend Norman Wisdom, who passed away at the age of 95, while the world of music was rocked by the death of legendary soul singer Solomon Burke after he collapsed at an airport in Amsterdam, Holland. The death of soprano Joan Sutherland in Switzerland at the age of 83 prompted an outpouring of grief in her native Australia, and The Slits star Ari Up lost her battle with cancer at the age of 48.
The scandal of the month came courtesy of Charlie Sheen, who hit headlines when cops were called to his trashed suite at a New York City hotel during a night with a young model/actress. The star's reps blamed his meltdown on "an adverse reaction to medication". It was also a bad month for Mel Gibson - his personal problems with ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva cost him a role in The Hangover sequel, while Taylor Swift was hit with a multi-million dollar lawsuit from a former manager. But the country star made up for it by embarking on a new romance with Hollywood hunk Jake Gyllenhaal.
There were also plenty of stars keeping the prison service busy - rapper T.I. was sent back to jail for breaching his probation while Lindsay Lohan escaped her second potential prison sentence of 2010 when a judge ordered her to spend three months in rehab instead. Careless driver George Michael regained his freedom after completing 27 days of his eight-week jail sentence.
The royal news of the year was the talk of the month as Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement and plans to wed in 2011
Teen star Demi Lovato stunned young Hollywood when she quite the Jonas Brothers tour and checked into rehab to address personal and "emotional" issues, and Charlie Sheen and Lil Wayne officially became free men again - the actor's divorce from Brooke Mueller became official, while rapper Wayne was released from prison.
MGM, the studio behind the James Bond film franchise, filed for bankruptcy, actor Justin Long was injured in a car crash, and soul queen Aretha Franklin pulled out of a series of shows to undergo surgery.
Spice Girls star Emma Bunton and Pink announced they were pregnant, Lady Gaga was the big winner at the European Music Awards, and Rachel Weisz and moviemaker Darren Aronofsky split.
The Munsters child star Butch Patrick entered rehab to tackle substance abuse and alcohol issues, Wesley Snipes was ordered to jail after losing his bid for a retrial in his tax case, Audrina Patridge's stalker was jailed for two years when he failed to stay away from the star, and country singer Eddie Montgomery was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Meanwhile, Ryan Reynolds was named Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine, Eva Longoria split from her husband Tony Parker amid reports he had been cheating on her, Kate Winslet split from boyfriend Louis Dowler, and Hollywood was stunned when top publicist Ronni Chasen was shot dead while driving through Beverly Hills .
In music news, Take That's Progress became Britain's fastest selling album of the century so far, Radiohead's Thom Yorke helped mastermind a piece of human art that could be seen from space, Miley Cyrus celebrated her 18th birthday party with pals Demi Moore and Rumer Willis, and Justin Bieber stole the show at the American Music Awards, taking home four prizes.
Malin Akerman replaced Lindsay Lohan as Linda Lovelace in the much-hyped Inferno, Leonardo DiCaprio was caught up in a mid-air drama when a plane he was flying to Russia in was forced to make an emergency landing after an engine stalled, and there was drama backstage at hit U.S. TV show Dancing With The Stars as studio staff came across an envelope containing a mysterious white powder intended for contestant Bristol Palin - it turned out to be talc!
Emmy Rossum and Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz split, Jennifer Jason Leigh filed for divorce from filmmaker husband Noah Baumbach, and Ugly Betty actor Michael L. Brea was charged with murder after stabbing his mother with a Samurai sword. Willie Nelson was arrested and charged with drug possession, indie movie Winter's Bone became a big Oscars contender after claiming top prizes at the Stockholm and Gotham Film Festivals, and the Spider-Man musical opened on Broadway after a series of delays - the critics largely hated it.
Meanwhile, David Cassidy pleaded not guilty to DUI charges following his arrest in Florida, Uma Thurman's stalker was arrested after violating a restraining order, and AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd was convicted of cannabis possession in New Zealand.
The baby news of the month came from the Travoltas as movie star John and his wife Kelly Preston welcomed Benjamin into the world and the proud new parents list for November also featured Stella McCartney, Ne-Yo, Vera Farmiga, Green Day star Mike Dirnt and actress Emilia Fox, while rocker Chris Daughtry became a dad to twins.
The music world mourned the loss of Australian rocker James Freud who died just days after his band Models were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.
And it was a sad month for Hollywood as movie mogul Dino De Laurentiis passed away alongside actresses Ingrid Pitt and Jill Clayburgh and Naked Gun star Leslie Nielsen.
The film world also bid farewell to The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner and revered Italian filmmaker Mario Monicelli.
December saw a series of scandals as the stars brought a touch of sex and drugs to the festive season - and wildchild Miley Cyrus led the way. The former Disney star ended 2010 by reminding us all she's a grown up now after she was caught on camera smoking legal hallucinogenic Salvia from a bong, and hit headlines again days later when she was pictured in a girl-on-girl clinch and exposing her bra while surrounded by hunky men.
Her pal Demi Lovato joined the Hannah Montana star in scandal when provocative photos which appeared to show her partly-exposing her breasts leaked on the internet, and Christina Aguilera's reps vowed to hunt down computer hackers who leaked nearly-nude photos of the Beautiful hitmaker.
Pink Floyd rocker David Gilmour told of his shame after his son was arrested for clambering over a war memorial during student riots in London, and Hulk Hogan's wedding to Jennifer McDaniel descended into chaos when cops were called to break up a clash between a bodyguard and a photographer.
Love was in the air for Reese Witherspoon, who got engaged to Hollywood agent Jim Toth, and also making wedding plans this month were Ginnifer Goodwin, Shania Twain, Kelsey Grammer, Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany, Poison rocker Bret Michaels, and Hugh Hefner. And it was double delight for Natalie Portman – the actress got engaged and announced she's pregnant by choreographer Benjamin Millepied. Meanwhile, Michael Sheen and Rachel McAdams became Hollywood's hottest new couple.
Actor Vince Vaughn became a father for the first time, and there were also new arrivals for Alanis Morissette, Ali Larter, and Elton John, who became a father at 63 after he and boyfriend David Furnish welcomed a son via a surrogate mother.
Nicole Richie had her father Lionel dancing on the ceiling when she wed Joel Madden, but other stars weren't so lucky in love - Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens ended their romance, Elizabeth Hurley confirmed her marriage split from Arun Nayar after she was linked to cricketer Shane Warne, rocker John Mellencamp split from his wife of 18 years, and Ryan Reynolds filed for divorce from Scarlett Johansson.
In the courts, KC and The Sunshine Band co-founder Richard R. Finch was jailed for seven years for sexually abusing young boys, Rip Torn was given a suspended jail term for his drunken bank break-in, and rapper DMX was sent to prison for a year for violating his probation by using drugs. In Florida, officials posthumously pardoned Jim Morrison over his infamous arrest for indecent exposure at a 1969 The Doors concert.
Meanwhile, Heather Locklear was hospitalised for a bacterial infection, Eminem was celebrating after landing 10 Grammy nominations, rap mogul Suge Knight was arrested after missing a court hearing, and exiled moviemaker Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer was the big winner at the European Film Awards.
Lady Gaga was named Artist of the Year by Billboard magazine editors, veteran entertainers Dame Julie Andrews and Dolly Parton were announced as recipients of lifetime achievement Grammy awards at a special upcoming ceremony in 2011, and Natalie Portman's hopes of Oscar glory for her movie Black Swan received a major boost by landing a record 12 nominations for the 2011 Critics' Choice Movie Awards.
The showbiz world mourned the loss of jazz musicians Billy Taylor and James Moody, Pink Panther creator Blake Edwards, rocker Captain Beefheart, singer/songwriter Teena Marie, and Boney M star Bobby Farrell.
And it was a miserable end to 2010 for Taylor Momsen - the Gossip Girl star spent Christmas in Amsterdam, Holland - away from her family and friends in the U.S. - after she became stranded in Europe due to flights chaos following snowstorms across the continent.
December 19, 2010 4:15am EST
Andrew Wilson, older brother to actor brothers Owen and Luke, was bitten while he surfed with friends, and although the deadly fish clamped down on his right foot, he managed to escape serious injury and swim back to shore.
The Wedding Crashers star only heard about the incident when he texted his big brother to ask about a problem with his TV and was shocked by his sibling's response.
He tells TV host Jay Leno, "Just the other day I was sending a message to Andrew about some guy coming by to take a look at the TV.
"He sent back (a message saying), 'Sounds good, I was bitten by a shark so I won't be there.' And he literally was bitten by a shark on his right foot. Can you imagine swimming and then feeling something clamp down and pull? He was OK, he had to get some stitches and everything.
"Actually the paramedics who came said he was more at danger (because his friends) had tied a BlackBerry (cell phone) cord around his ankle from cutting off the circulation on his foot. He's so kind of stoic about it."
November 05, 2010 7:18am EST
In keeping with this week's American Film Market theme, following is a rundown of deals and announcements to hit over the past day.
Notably, Wild Bunch has boarded Nick Cassavetes' Yellow, which had previously encountered some financial woes. With a private American equity partner now in place, the film is set to start shooting again in December. Wild Bunch is handling international sales.
In a rather poignant twist, Cassavetes' wife, Heather Wahlquist, stars in the film, which could be described as a sort of lighter version of A Woman Under the Influence -- in which Cassavetes' mother, Gena Rowlands, starred for his father, John Cassavetes.
The cast also includes Sienna Miller, Melanie Griffith, Luke Wilson and Ben Foster.
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has acquired domestic rights to The River Sorrow, as part of a deal that also saw the company pick up rights for the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, says The Hollywood Reporter.
The Rich Cowan film stars Ray Liotta, Ving Rhames, Christian Slater, Giselle Fraga, Raymond Barry, Sarah Ann Schultz and Melora Walters.
As expected, Chris Rock has beenconfirmed as the lead opposite Julie Delpy in her directorial follow up to 2 Days in Paris. 2 Days in New York is being sold by Rezo Films.
According to Screen, the film now finds Paris heroine Marion in New York with her child and a new guy. Rock plays the new boyfriend, a radio host and journalist whose life will be upended by a two-day visit from Marion's French family.
Also per Screen, WestEnd Films will handle international rights on The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Justin Timberlake is scoring and supervising music for the film, which stars Zach Braff, Jessica Biel and Chloe Moretz.
Bill Purple directs the story of Henry, whose world is turned upside down when his wife is killed in a tragic accident. In an attempt to overcome his grief, Henry befriends a young homeless girl and helps her accomplish her dream of building a raft to cross the Atlantic to find her long-lost father.
Principal photography starts in April 2011.
Christophe Honore is back with a film starring Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni, Ludivine Sagnier, Louis Garrel, Milos Forman and Paul Schneider. Les Biens-Aimees, which Screen describes as a Jacques Demy-style musical drama, is being sold internationally by Celluloid Dreams.
Lucy Walker's hot doc Countdown to Zero has sold to Paramount Pictures for Japan, says The Hollywood Reporter. The Works International is repping the Lawrence Bender produced film which premiered at Sundance and had a screening in Cannes.
Korea's CJ Entertainment has sold US rights to The Man from Nowhere to Well Go USA, Screen further reports.
IFC Midnight has taken US rights to psychological thriller Choose. SC Films is repping the film internationally. IFC Midnight plans a theatrical release in 2011 for the Marcus Graves genre film Screen says is in the vein of Seven and The Silence of the Lambs.
Magnet Releasing, the genre arm of Magnolia Pictures, has picked up US rights to Thai action movie BKO: Bangkok Knockout, adds THR.
The film is directed by Panna Rittkrai and centers on a group of friends who have to fight for their lives with one of their own is kidnapped.
Finally, Deadline reports that Myriad Pictures has acquired offshore rights to the Vivi Friedman-directed comedy The Family Tree. Pic stars Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney, Selma Blair, Christina Hendricks, Max Thieriot, Jane Seymour, Rachael Leigh Cook and Bow Wow. Davis plays a restless housewife who bumps her head during an illicit encounter with her next-door neighbor and loses her memory. Myriad is shopping at the AFM. IP Advisors is brokering North American rights.
Source: Hollywood Wiretap
November 02, 2010 9:58am EST
Looks like the Nard-Dog has a fiancee that's a babe.
Jamie Chung (Sorority Row, upcoming Sucker Punch) just joined the cast of The Hangover 2 to play Stu's (Ed Helms) fiancee. So it appears that the hopeful relationship left at the end of the first film, with Heather Graham's beautiful Jade, didn't turn into anything. (Or in reality, they probably couldn't get Graham for the sequel).
Anyway, it seems like Chung could create a character who is a perfect fit for Stu. In the first movie, he grew up. He started as a pushover engaged to, as my co-worker Sam describes, a "dehumanizing psycho bitch of a woman" and matured into a man sure of himself. So, what better match for a man with new confidence than a smokin' hot, exotic woman like Chung.
This is the latest tidbit in a whole slew of recent Hangover 2 news. Last week, Mike Tyson announced that he'd be returning for the sequel (and will probably punch Allen in the face again) and Liam Neeson would replace Mel Gibson's guest spot. And, director Todd Phillips said that Luke Wilson's sex-crazed ex-wife from Old School would make an appearance. One word: awesome.
Sequels have a habit of letting me down, so I'm trying to control my excitement for The Hangover 2, but with the entire cast returning on top of all the other additions, it's hard not to have high expectations.
Source: The Playlist
October 28, 2010 11:27am EST
So, who gets a right cross from a former heavyweight champion now?
Mike Tyson is set to reprise his cameo role in The Hangover 2. There's no word yet on how he'll be involved, but hopefully, we'll see some more of his Phil Collins fandom.
And surprisingly -- although most of the cast didn't like the idea of a Mel Gibson cameo (which led to Liam Neeson taking the role) -- Tyson was cool with it. He told The New York Post that he would've worked with the star "100 percent." He added, "I'm not going to ever in my life point my finger at anyone. I don't live in a glass house. None of us do. I work with anyone, as long as they're respectful."
Pretty classy words from a dude who bit off a man's ear in the ring and was convicted of rape.
Regardless, in other Hangover 2 news, remember Luke Wilson's character's crazy sex-addicted ex-wife in Old School, played by Juliette Lewis? Well big news, she's coming back, and so's the dude -- played by director Todd Phillips himself -- who was "here for the gangbang."
"She now has two kids," Phillips said at a press conference for his upcoming film Due Date. "Are they Will Ferrell‘s kids? They might be. I don’t know. [Laughs] We’ll have to wait and see. That scene just created itself in a weird way. I just show up on the set -- I’m usually high first thing in the morning -- and we just kind of figure it out."
Well, I'm not sure what else to write after that quote. The Hangover 2 is just going to be awesome.
Source: The Playlist and New York Post
August 10, 2010 9:41am EST
Although we've begun to get used to the idea of film directors taking charge of the pilot episodes of new TV series to boost viewership (think Martin Scorsese for HBO's upcoming Boardwalk Empire), we've never seen a combination of directorial talents quite like this. According to Deadline, HBO has lined up a number of impressive film directors to helm episodes of the new Mike White comedy series Enlightened, including Academy Award-winner Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs), John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Itch), Phil Morrison (Junebug), and Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt). Each would direct an unspecified number of episodes for the first season.
Enlightened stars Luke Wilson (Middle Men, My Super Ex-Girlfriend) and Laura Dern (Recount, Jurassic Park) as a deadbeat and drug-addled husband and self-destructive wife, whose lives are changed when Dern has a spiritual awakening and begins trying to lead an enlightened life.
HBO has picked up the series for at least nine episodes, with writer-creator Mike White set to direct the pilot. Demme, possibly the biggest name director amongst the indie talent mentioned above, is on board for at least a couple episodes. That's heartening news for us as viewers and especially for Luke Wilson, who I hope may finally be leaving the 'AT&T' phase of his career behind.
August 05, 2010 4:52am EST
Middle Men stars Luke Wilson as Jack Harris, an early pioneer of internet commerce who finds himself caught in a whirlwind of starlets, con men, Russian mobsters, federal agents, and international terrorists. The film also stars Giovanni Ribisi, James Caan and Laura Ramsey.
Now, we love clips like the one below, but we gotta warn you, it's got boobs. That's right, boobs! There's also a little domestic violence to complete the red-band experience. Don't worry, it's woman on man violence and that doesn't count, right?. So let's recap. Sex (that's the boobs) - check! Violence - check! You, my friend, have one good, solid red-band clip on your hands.
Check out this exclusive, below and see Middle Men this Friday, August 6th
August 04, 2010 5:00am EST
The Vacancy star, who has previously dated Drew Barrymore, admits he is well aware of his advancing years as a bachelor and he's more than ready to settle down.
But the 38 year old will have to find a girlfriend first.
He tells USA Today, "I'm working on that one. Start a family, start tucking my shirt in and wear a belt, putting the right button in the right hole.
"I've got to find the girl, number one. And then I've got to somehow make her believe in me - that's going to take a couple of years. I've got to BS (bulls**t) her into thinking I've got my (stuff) together."
Wilson admits his busy work schedule has prevented him from actively looking for love because he's always plotting his next career move - but he worries his dream of becoming a dad will not come into fruition until it's too late.
He says, "I'm always thinking about this job or that job or when I have a movie coming out. Before you know it, a decade's gone by. And then I start to think, 'Well, hell, Anthony Quinn had kids when he was 80. I shouldn't be in a hurry.' But I don't want to have to pay a neighbourhood kid to throw the football with my kid."
July 28, 2010 7:00am EST
David Letterman talked to Luke Wilson (Owen’s brother who occasionally crawls out of his cave to pretend like he’s just as good an actor) about his horrible dog that bit through a door and a poodle with a cardiologist.
And here’s Letterman’s Top Ten List, “Surprises in the Leaked Government Documents.” I knew people watched Cake Boss!
Stephen Colbert talked to Kevin Kline about pronunciation, and how the term “escorting a woman” should most certainly, unquestionably, undeniably include the duty of sleeping with her after they return from using their backstage passes at the Broadway hit, “Wicked.”
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Jon Stewart and his ‘stache made out of highway paint talked about the 92,000+ page leak about the war in Afghanistan. But mind you – TOP SECRET is not like SECRET. SECRET is when you cheat on a test that asks you to draw a water molecule. TOP SECRET is when it doesn’t matter if you get the question wrong because you’re already sleeping with the teacher.
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