Brash, enthusiastic and sometimes controversial, multi-award-winning commercial director Marcus Nispel waited 15 years to direct his first feature film, the low-budget remake of the horror classic "Th...
No pun intended but this remake of Tobe Hooper's low-budget 1974 cult horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre cuts straight to the chase and goes right for the jugular. The result is a horror movie bloodbath with jolting scares guaranteed to shock moviegoers out of their seats and onto sticky theater floors. Like the first the remake is set in the early 1970s and follows five friends on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in Dallas after making a drug buy in Mexico. Their fates are forever changed when they pick up a hitchhiker who commits suicide in the back of the van. In desperate need of a solution to the dead girl in the car the quintet stumbles upon a dilapidated house in a rural Texas community inhabited by Thomas Hewitt (Andrew Bryniarski) and his strange extended family. Hewitt receives the group led by Erin (Jessica Biel) revving a chainsaw--and suddenly their aspirations go from catching a performance of "Free Bird" to leaving the house with their limbs intact. This is supposedly based on the true story of Plainfield Wisconsin's cannibalistic grave robber Ed Gein which is precisely what makes this film so entrancing. If horror movies are designed to brutally assault not only the victims on-screen but also its viewers then TCM succeeds.
Biel 21 first impressed viewers on the WB series 7th Heaven with her portrayal of Mary Camden the eldest daughter of a progressive minister. As Erin in TCM Biel emerges as a strong lead and it's refreshing to see a horror movie heroine who never twists her ankle in a pivotal chase scene doesn't scream unnecessarily and knows how to hotwire anything on wheels. This role should definitely prepare Biel for her next project playing vampire hunter Abigail Whistler alongside Wesley Snipes in the upcoming Blade 3. While Biel carries the film there are also some decent performances from Eric Balfour (levelheaded Kemper) Mike Vogel (Andy the drunk) Erica Leerhsen (slutty Pepper) and Jonathan Tucker (STD statistic-spouting nerd Morgan). They all have clichéd characteristics that serve to create tension and each rises to the occasion in their limited screen time. At 6'5" Bryniarski (Scooby-Doo) is tailor-made for the role of the enduring yet no less frightening Leatherface. There are also some smaller performances worth noting from R. Lee Ermey (Willard) as the demented Sheriff Hoyt and Heather Kafka as the trailer park baby-thief Henrietta.
Music video helmer Marcus Nispel chose a doozy of a film for his directorial debut. Director Hooper's '74 slasher pic influenced a slew of contemporary horrors including House of 1 000 Corpses Jeepers Creepers and Wrong Turn and it remains to this day a highly romanticized and over-analyzed film. Some for example maintain that Hooper's TCM was a sociopolitical allegory of post-Vietnam America. But although Nispel's setup is practically identical to Hooper's there is no profound message here. Scribes Scott Kosar and Eric Berny do slip in a psychological explanation for Hewitt's wrath by giving him a skin condition that left him without a nose and ostracized as a child which is why he collects body parts and makes masks out of his victims' faces--hence the nickname "Leatherface"--but in the end it's just an entertaining slasher pic. Half storytelling half mood music intensive and richly atmospheric TCM has great visual appeal although some of it is undercut by some of producer Michael Bay's trademark bullet path shots. Nispel's music video background is pervasive in the film's visual MTV-style narration which is fitting for a film aimed at the 15- to 25-year-old TV watching audience.
Top Story: NBC Pulls Coupling From November Sweeps
Unfortunately for NBC, TV viewers aren't tuning in to the US version of BBC sitcom Coupling, a show the network had touted as a possible successor to Friends, now in its ninth and final season. NBC has benched Coupling twice in October, including tonight. The network will instead air a repeat of Tuesday's Whoopi episode, which featured a face-to-face encounter between Whoopi Goldberg's character and President Bush (played by impersonator Steve Bridges). Coupling will again be pulled Oct. 30 to make room for three super-sized editions of Friends, Scrubs and Will & Grace on the opening night of the November sweeps. According to Reuters, the interrupted run of the Coupling has raised questions from media analysts about whether NBC is considering moving the show to a different time slot or pulling the plug altogether. NBC, however, said it has made no decisions about the future of Coupling and has yet to set its November schedule.
Conan O'Brien and Wife Have Baby Girl
Late Night host Conan O'Brien, 40, and his wife, Liza, are the parents of a new baby daughter, Reuters reports. According to NBC, Neve O'Brien, the couple's first child, was born Tuesday evening in New York. O'Brien, who was chosen to replace David Letterman in the 12:35 slot following Jay Leno's The Tonight Show in 1993, is scheduled to return to the air on Thursday.
Donna Summer Pens Autobiography
Donna Summer, who has had a bevy of hits including the 1976 single "Love To Love You Baby," is releasing an autobiography titled Ordinary Girl: The Journey (Villard Books) in which she discusses a suicide attempt, bouts of bedwetting, witnessing a murder on the streets of Boston as a young girl, moving to Germany for seven years to perform in the musical Hair, and the rumor about her really being a man. The book, which hit bookstores Tuesday, is being released along with a greatest hits album that contains three new songs.
Penn Sate Student Sets Jeopardy! Record
A part-time Penn State student became the first Jeopardy! contestant to return for a record-setting sixth appearance, The Associated Press reports. Sean Ryan, 31, won his sixth round of Jeopardy! in an episode that aired Wednesday night, taking home $17,999 and bringing his six-day total to $123,797. The show previously had limited contestants to five appearances, with the opportunity to return for the annual Tournament of Champions, but lifted that restriction this summer. Ryan will return to Jeopardy! Thursday to try to add to his winnings.
Baseball Helps Fox Take Weekly Ratings Crown
Exciting baseball playoffs in big markets including Chicago and Boston propelled the Fox network to victory in television ratings. According to Nielsen Media Research, Fox came in first with an average 13 million viewers, followed by CBS (12.5 million), NBC (9.3 million) and ABC (9 million). For the week of Oct. 6-12, the top 10 shows were: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS), Friends (NBC), ER (NBC), Survivor: Pearl Islands (CBS), Major League Baseball LCS: Boston at N.Y. Yankees or Florida at Chicago (Fox), CSI: Miami (CBS), Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS), 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (ABC), Law & Order (NBC), Without a Trace (CBS).
Showtime Tackles Jayson Blair TV Biopic
The Showtime network is planning a television film about disgraced former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair, who built and ultimately destroyed his career by fabricating stories. According to Reuters, the dark comedy, tentatively titled The Jayson Blair Project, is being eyed for a premiere sometime in 2004, with Jon Maas on board to pen the script, but no casting decisions have been made. The project will be based on articles by former Newsweek reporter Seth Mnookin, who recently left the magazine to write a book about The Times for Random House.
Revolution Pacts With Harry Knowles
Revolution Studios is negotiating a deal with online critic Harry Knowles, better known for his movie gossip Web site Ain't It Cool News, to come on board as the producer of Ghost Town, an original comedy he pitched. According to Variety, the project is the first step on what is expected be a multiple-film arrangement with the studio. The arrangement is considered unusual because Knowles writes about the industry on his site, which flaunts every piece of gossip he can dig up about upcoming movies. But Knowles tells Variety he expects a backlash from his readers: "They're going to hate it," he said. "When anything good happens to me, there is a collective outburst of unfettered jealousy and anger."
Caterpillar Has Beef With George of the Jungle
Bulldozer maker Caterpillar Inc. claims in a lawsuit filed late Tuesday in Federal Court in Peoria, Illinois, that Walt Disney Co.'s straight-to-DVD movie George of the Jungle 2 infringes on its trademarks. Peoria-based Caterpillar alleges the film, about the unlucky jungle man battling "bulldozing bullies," puts them in a bad light. Disney told Reuters they respected Caterpillar but added that the suit was groundless. "We expect the audience will view these sequences for their comedic value and not take them seriously," a spokesman said. The home video is set for released Oct. 21.
Role Call: Nispel Becomes Expendable
Marcus Nispel, whose feature directorial debut The Texas Chainsaw Massacre opens Friday, is in talks to helm Warner Bros. Pictures big-budget pic The Expendables. According to Variety, The Expendables is described as a Dirty Dozen-like drama inspired by a real-life program at California's Chino prison in which convicts are taught diving skills that can provide them with lucrative salvage and ship-repair careers following their parole.
Comedian Robin Williams is going back to his roots--and HBO has got him. He will be taking the stage for the first time in 15 years with a live comedy special, Robin Williams: Live on Broadway. It will air July 14 at 9 p.m.
Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton will soon be able to bring home their adoptive Cambodian son. The Immigration and Naturalization Service has cleared 18 Cambodian children for American families, including the star couple's 9-month-old son, Maddox.
Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton is all grown up--and sexier than ever, according to Vanity Fair. In its June issue, the magazine calls Clinton the "new J.F.K. Jr.," Reuters reports, as she continues her studies at England's Oxford University and flaunts a new boyfriend, Ian Klaus, a fellow U.S. student at Oxford.
Bruce Willis is such a nice dad. He decided to buy 12,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies on the advice of his youngest daughter, Tallulah, 8, and sent them to the U.S. troops in Afghanistan, his publicist told Reuters. He paid the full price of $36,000. That's a lot of Thin Mints.
Lucy Lawless, the former Xena: Warrior Princess, had a real-life adventure of her own Tuesday. She gave birth to a son, Judah Miro Tapert, in her home in New Zealand. The baby weighed in at 8 pounds, 8 ounces, The Associated Press reported. She and husband Robert G. Tapert, executive producer of the now defunct Xena, also have a 2-year-old son, and Lawless has a 13-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.
Handsome rocker Jon Bon Jovi is a dad again, as well. His wife, Dorothea, gave birth to a son, Jacob, Tuesday in New Jersey, bringing the count in the Bon Jovi household to five. The couple also has a daughter, 9, and a son, 7.
Ethan Hawke's second novel, Ash Wednesday, will be released in September. The book revolves around a soldier who bolts from the Army to be with his pregnant lover. Hawke's first novel, The Hottest State, was released in 1997.
In the Biz
Wanna see Leatherface again? Sure you do. Well, you'll get to because New Line Cinema and music video director Marcus Nispel have decided to reconceptualize the Tobe Hooper classic horror flick The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for a brand-new feature film release. Shooting starts in July.
Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment have bought the rights to make movies based on the archival material published in Playboy over the last 48 years. Since the magazine's first issue in 1953, it has printed short stories from such authors as Ray Bradbury, John Irving and Larry McMurtry. Sure, that's why guys buy the magazine--for the articles.
Jamie Foxx will be portraying Ray Charles in the feature film Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Story, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film will follow the musician's life from growing up in Georgia to his rise in the music industry.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Sylvester Stallone has created and produced a TV series about a hip Catholic priest, Father Lefty, which is currently being considered by CBS for its fall lineup. With the current rash of sexual misconduct allegations against Catholic priests, Stallone's timing is perfect.
Boy George is back--and better than ever! He made his stage debut in the musical Taboo, a tale about George's own group, Culture Club, and its short reign during the '80s. George plays performance artist Leigh Bowery in the musical.
The New York Drama Critics' Circle named Edward Albee's provocative play The Goat the best of the year. The group also gave Elaine Stritch a special award for her autobiographical one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty.
Makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin, who worked on such famous faces as Cindy Crawford, Britney Spears and Julia Roberts, died Tuesday from complications of a metabolic disorder. He was 40.
Directed a reboot of "Conan the Barbarian," starring Jason Momoa in the titular role
Directed the USA network production of "Frankenstein"
Made his directorial debut on a series of music videos for C&C Music Factory
Directed and produced, "Pathfinder," a remake to Norwegian film with the same name
Worked as an art director in the Frankfurt branch of Young & Rubicam
Directed music videos for artists such as Billy Joel, Janet Jackson and Elton John
Directed the remake of "Friday the 13th"; produced by Michael Bay
Directed commercial spots for AT&T, Coca-Cola, and UPS
Signed on to direct Arnold Schwarzenegger in "End of Days," but backed out due to ‘artistic differences’
Founded and operated his own production company, Portfolio Artists Network
Made his feature directing debut with the remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"
Moved to the US on a Fulbright Scholarship
Brash, enthusiastic and sometimes controversial, multi-award-winning commercial director Marcus Nispel waited 15 years to direct his first feature film, the low-budget remake of the horror classic "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (2003). Not for lack of offers: the prolific director of commercials and music videos had been approached to make $100 million blockbusters in the past, but in order to avoid being just another cog in the machine, he made sure that his first film would something he wanted to do. In the meantime, Nispel racked up award after award for his work on hundreds commercials and music videos. <p> Originally from Germany, Nispel got his start as an art director in the Frankfurt branch of Young & Rubicam, a global marketing and communications group. Nispel came to America in 1984 on a Fulbright Scholarship at age 20 and made his directorial debut on a series of music videos for C&C Music Factory, including "Gonna Make You Sweat" and "Things That Make You Go Hmmm " Nispel directed videos for many other famous artists, a few of which hit #1, including "Greedy Fly" for Bush, "Turn The Beat Around" for Gloria Estefan and "Spice Up Your Life" for the Spice Girls. Ambitious from the get-go, Nispel's hard work paid off. He received twelve MTV Music Award nominations, with four wins, including an MTV Best European Video Award for "Killer/Papa Was A Rolling Stone", by George Michael. In 2001, Nispel won the MVPA Lifetime Achievement Award, a top award given to music video professionals by Kodak. <p> Nispel was equally as prolific in the commercial sector, directing hundreds of spots for AT&T, Coca-Cola, Levi's, Pepsi and UPS. And in keeping with his success as a music video director, Nispel was showered with numerous awards for his work, including several Clios, a Mobius Award, the Grand Prix at the BDA Awards, as well as honors from the New York, Houston and Chicago Film Festivals and the Art Directors Club, an international not-for-profit group of creative professionals engaged in all facets of visual communications. <p> Nispel then took his first tentative steps into the film world when he inked a deal to direct Arnold Schwarzenegger in "End of Days" (1998). However, he backed out a month before principal photography due to "artistic differences". It would be a few years until Nispel would get another shot to direct a feature. This time, Jerry Bruckheimer protégé Michael Bay acted as producer and hired Nispel to direct the remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Made for far less than the $100 million tagged to "End of Days", Nispel relished the opportunity, despite being under the thumb of producer Bay. <p> In the movie, actress Jessica Biel starred as one of five 20-somethings whose free-spirited road trip becomes a terrifying descent into madness when they meet the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface. What attracted Nispel to the project was the chance to explore the past of the real-life killer, Ed Gein, the inspiration for the original movie and for Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (although the events of all three films are extremely fictionalized and bear little resemblance to the true story). The result of Nispel's typically frenzied work days-for him and his crew-was a number one opening at the box office with over $28 million in receipts.
Twin of Bruno; Born March 15, 1999; Mother, Dyan Nispel
Twin of Armyan; Born March 15, 1999; Mother, Dyan Nispel