Actors Cherie Johnson and Dennis White have accused a police officer in South Carolina of racial profiling after they were stopped and handcuffed during a weekend getaway in the state. The Punky Brewster star and her boyfriend, Notorious actor White, claim they were questioned by a cop for no reason on 22 September (13) and allegedly treated so roughly, they were seriously worried for their safety.
She revealed the couple had been on its way to Myrtle Beach for a romantic vacation when the actors turned off a rural highway and parked by a cotton field to take a picture. Upon returning to their car, they noticed a police vehicle parked behind theirs and they were quickly approached by a white officer named Shad Barfield, who quizzed them about drugs and handcuffed them as he searched their car.
In an interview with CNN on Sunday (29Sep13), Johnson said, "I've been stopped by the police before, but I've never been fearful for my life. They need some kind of sensitivity training."
Authorities in Marion County have since launched an investigation into Johnson and White's accusations, and a statement issued on Monday (30Sep13) by Sheriff Mark Richardson reads: "Discrimination in any form, including racial profiling, is strictly prohibited by this department and as Sheriff of Marion County SC, I can assure you I will take immediate and appropriate action to investigate the allegations of racial profiling made by Mr. White and Ms. Johnson. This matter will be dealt with by an internal investigation within the department and I will also ask the State Law Enforcement Division to review the allegation made against Deputy Barfield."
American Horror Story. Are You Afraid of the Dark?. The Walking Dead. Season 9 of American Idol. This Halloween season, you're likely watching (or at least having nightmares about) television's most frightening series. But rubber men, Nosferatu, and zombies (not to mention Tim Urban) are meant to petrify remote-wielding audiences shielding their eyes with their Snuggies. Instead, there were some famous TV episodes that unsettled us merely for catching us off-guard. Not only did Boy Meets World do so with their famously bizarre Scream parody, 1998's "And Then There was Shawn" — read Matt Patches' oral history of the episode here! — but series like Looney Tunes, Doug, and Family Matters all made us as unsettled as we were confused during their long, goofy runs.
See seven surprisingly unsettling series below — and remember just how scary the cushy 1990s could be. (I do believe in Stevil, I do, I do, I do!) Quantum Leap [Image Credit: NBC] We still might not know who was in the grassy knoll, but in Quantum Leap's history, Sam (Scott Bakula) was sitting right in Lee Harvey Oswald's seat, aiming to shoot and kill President John F. Kennedy in 1992's "Lee Harvey Oswald." Being in a killer's mind is frightening enough, but Sam's struggle to remain himself — and not a cold-blooded murderer — was a surprising, emotionally taxing turn for the fun, time-jumping series. Oh boy, indeed. Punky Brewster [Image Credit: NBC] We know that refrigerators store perishables, but, as children, we weren't sure that included humans until Punky Brewster's 1986 episode, "Cherie Lifesaver." Following a game of hide-and-seek gone awry, Punky (Soleil Moon Frye) is forced to give Cherie (Cherie Johnson) CPR after finding her stuck inside the refrigerator. If we already feared the closet and under the bed, "Cherie Lifesaver" led us to fear the entire house. Tiny Toons [Image Credit: Warner Bros] Looney Tunes has produced many unsettling images throughout its multi-decade run: mice that promote racial stereotyping, skunks sexually assaulting cats, humans and animals being reduced to mere accordions. But perhaps no episode was as jarring as Tiny Toons' 1991 episode, "One Beer," in which Buster, Plucky, and Hamton imbibe in, as the title suggests, one beer, steal a cop car, and put all young starlets to shame with a DUI that leads them over a cliff. Dead Tiny Toons characters were too much for young audiences to bear — the episode was eventually banned. But it got Wile E. Coyote thinking about what he can accomplish if ACME launched a beer line... Doug [Image Credit: Nickelodeon] Doug's brush with popularity during a 1993 episode "Doug Rocks the House" came with quite the emotional price. After knocking down an old abandoned house with a rock — in an attempt to impress bully Roger — Doug discovers that the house belonged to Patti before she moved out following her mother's death. Heavy stuff for a boy who's biggest problem is figuring out which of a dozen identical green vests he should wear each morning. Family Matters [Image Credit: ABC] Urkel's (Jaleel White) poor social skills were frightening enough, but Family Matters brought fear to a whole different level during the Child's Play-inspired 1996 episode, "Stevil." After Urkel buys a ventriloquist dummy in his likeness, a lightening bolt brings the toy to life and "Stevil" begins a tortuous rampage, leading to the dismemberment of Laura (Kellie Shanygne Williams), among other terrible actions. Eventually, the episode reveals Urkel was merely having a nightmare — but sitcoms hadn't seen anything so scary since Brady Bunch's Oliver. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air [Image Credit: NBC] The Fresh Prince (Will Smith) had previously confronted trouble when a couple of guys up to no good starting making trouble in the neighborhood. But that was when his neighborhood was Philadelphia! So it was surprising when, in 1995's "Bullets Over Bel-Air," Will found himself facing fatal danger near his new, posh neighborhood when he was shot during an ATM mugging. The series (and Smith) had gained popularity for showcasing goofy antics, but family matters got downright serious when a crying Will sparred with Carlton over a gun the latter purchased for protection. Carlton hands him the gun and Will removes the bullets and continues to cry... and then the episode ends. Even a whole album of Tom Jones music couldn't cheer us up after the somber episode. iCarly [Image Credit: Nickelodeon] The most unsettling TV moment of all? iCarly references Snoop's death on The Wire. Damn you and your irresistible pop culture-loving charms, Jennette McCurdy. More: Mockingbird Lane Pilot React: A Halloween Special Not So Special Modern Family Does Halloween early: Which Shows Are Playing Dress-Up Next? 15 Pop Culture Felines That Turn Us Into Scaredy Cats From Our Partners:Exclusive New ‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn’ Trailer! (Moviefone) Most Ridiculous Horror Movies Ever(Moviefone)
Family Matters star Cherie Johnson has opened her own eatery in Houston, Texas. The actress, who has been absent from the spotlight in recent years, has launched hamburger and waffles joint Datt's It. According to TMZ.com, Johnson doesn't just take on a management role - she also buses tables.
Based on Chris Van Allsburg's enchanting award winning children's book the story begins on a snowy Christmas Eve where a doubting young boy lies in his bed waiting to hear the sound he doesn't know if he believes in anymore: the tinkle of Santa's sleigh bells. What he hears instead however is the thunderous roar of an approaching train where no train should be: it's the Polar Express. Rushing outside in only a robe and slippers the incredulous boy meets the train's conductor who urges him to come onboard. Suddenly the boy finds himself embarking on an extraordinary journey to the North Pole with a number of other children--including a girl who has the tools to be a good leader but lacks confidence; a know-it-all boy who lacks humility; and a lonely boy who just needs to have a little faith in other people to make his dreams come true. Together the children discover that the wonder of Christmas never fades for those who believe. As the conductor wisely advises "It doesn't matter where the train is going. What matters is deciding to get on." Gives ya goose bumps doesn't it?
Talk about a vanity project for Tom Hanks. He portrays several of the characters in the film--the conductor the hobo who mysteriously appears and disappears on the Polar Express the boy's father. Wait isn't that Hanks playing Santa Claus as well? But if anyone can pull off some cheesy dialogue about the spirit of Christmas this Oscar-winning actor can. Interestingly the film also incorporates adults to play the children (none of the characters have names actually) with Hanks as the Hero Boy; Hanks' Bosom Buddies pal Peter Scolari as the Lonely Boy; The Matrix Revolutions Nona Gaye as the Hero Girl; and veteran voice actor Eddie Deezen as the Know-It-All Boy. Everyone does a good job but trying to make CGI-created people seem real is a difficult undertaking. With
The Polar Express director Robert Zemeckis has created an entirely new way to do computer animation called "performance capture." "[It's a process that] offers a vivid rendering of the Van Allsburg world while infusing a sense of heightened realism into the performances. It's like putting the soul of a live person into a virtual character " visual effects wizard and longtime Zemeckis collaborator Ken Ralston explains. Oh is that all? Problem is no matter how hard they try it doesn't work--not completely. Similar to flaws in the 2001 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within virtual characters just can't convey human emotion as well as real-life actors plain and simple. And with a touching story like Polar Express that real-life connection is missed at times.
Of course like the images in the book it's still an exceptionally beautiful film to watch. Zemeckis enjoys being a filmmaking innovator. He charmed audiences with a lively blend of live action and manic animation in the 1988 classic action comedy Who Framed
Roger Rabbit? and then wowed them with the 1994 Oscar-winning Forrest Gump blending authentic archival footage of historic figures with the actors. Now with The Polar Express it's this performance capture which gives Zemeckis unlimited freedom in creating the world he wants. And boy does he make use of it. True the story is a classic but the director knows he has to make The Polar Express exciting for the tykes-- simply riding around in a train to North Pole without any thrills certainly wouldn't be enough for the ADD world we live in. To accomplish this the film is padded with exhilarating scenes such as the train going on a giant roller coaster ride through the mountains and across frozen lakes (too bad Warner Bros. doesn't have a theme park) and the boy's race across the top of the snowy Polar Express. Even the North Pole is a booming magical Mecca filled with some pretty boisterous (and weird looking) elves who like to send Santa off in style Christmas Eve--watch out for Aerosmith's Steven Tyler making a cameo as a jammin' elf. Ho-ho-ho!
September 12, 2003 11:43am EST
New grads Paul (Rider Strong) Karen (Jordan Ladd) Jeff (Joey Kern) Marcy (Cerina Vincent) and Bert (James Debello) head off to a cabin in the woods to let off some post-college steam before entering the working world. They are a pretty likeable bunch except for Bert who gets drunk and starts shooting at squirrels with a rifle--and then accidentally shoots a stranger in the woods. Bert keeps mum about the incident until the man projectile vomiting blood and looking like he's been skinned alive shows up at the cabin and tries to take their truck. While trying to stop him Paul unintentionally sets him on fire and the gang watches as he runs ablaze into the woods. What they don't know however is that he had a contagious flesh-eating virus. When his charred body falls into the local water reservoir everyone becomes vulnerable. The first to gulp down a glass of water filled with strange chunky particles is Karen whom they forcibly quarantine in a shed behind the cabin when she begins to show signs of the disease. Before long the fear of contagion turns the remaining four against one another. What's more a local lynch mob has formed in order to track down and kill anyone who may have come in contact with the virus which has apparently threatened this small town before. Cabin Fever is definitely a rollicking ride; it will scare you gross you out and make you laugh.
Like most low-budget horror films Cabin Fever's cast isn't exactly stellar yet the young actors and actresses really elevate the material. The most refreshing thing about the characters is that they react to what is happening to them in a way you and I probably would as opposed to the typical slasher-flick way: Instead of banding together against the common enemy they bicker act like cowards and put themselves first. Strong who last appeared in My Giant but is probably better known as Shawn from the TV series Boy Meets World emerges as a capable lead as Paul the most sensible of the group. Although his character comes across as somewhat brighter and more sensitive than the rest he is still immature enough to try to cop a feel when his love interest Karen is sleeping and feeling under the weather. Karen meanwhile is played by Ladd who has had small roles in several movies including The Specials and Never Been Kissed. Her character is the most compassionate of the gang and Karen reacts more intensely to events than the others. Kern as cocky know-it-all Jeff Vincent as slutty tough chick Marcy and Debello as party boy Bert perfectly round out the diverse cast of characters.
Because of its gruesome subject matter it is difficult to describe such a vile movie as being good or even well made but this one really is. In his feature directorial debut helmer Eli Roth delivers a truly disturbing horror picture. While most pics of this genre tend to look cold and gritty Roth saturates his sets with golden ambient lighting that brightly contrasts the film's dark dismal subject matter. And dismal is putting it mildly: Cabin Fever shows viewers things that most movies don't because they would be considered too disturbing. Case in point: When the intoxicated Bert drives off for help in his pickup and hits a deer the animal doesn't just die on impact but struggles in pain its hind legs flailing through the windshield. Such disturbing imagery escalates by degrees until the very end when the film takes on a weird surreal quality. For example the scenes of Paul being pushed through a hospital on a gurney have a dreamlike feel bound to make moviegoers question if what is happening is real. The film's score also has all sorts of unusual instrumental influences including a Twin Peaks-inspired number when a sheriff comes to investigate the cabin and a Deliverance-type banjo ditty to accompany the locals folk in front of the general store which adds a touch of humor at the most unlikely moment.
December 13, 2002 4:56am EST
As Star Trek: Nemesis begins its journey the U.S.S. Starship Enterprise is enjoying Officer William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi's (Marina Sirtis) wedding reception. But the celebrations come to halt when Engineer La Forge (Levar Burton) detects some sort of electromagnetic signal coming from the nearby planet Kolaris III. A crew from the Enterprise heads to the planet to investigate and finds scattered body parts of what looks like an android prototype of Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner). Before they can put the android back together again Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) receives a message from Admiral Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) that the Romulans have undergone a revolution and their new Praetor (leader) wants to discuss peace with the Federation. But when a hesitant Picard and his crew arrive on the planet they discover that the Praetor Shinzon (Tom Hardy) is not actually a Romulan but a human from Romulus' sister planet Remus. And not only is he human--he's a younger clone of Picard. Shinzon is hell-bent on revenge and wants to destroy everything in his path including the Enterprise the Federation and Earth but first he has a score to settle with Picard. Meanwhile Data struggles with what to make of his own double B-4.
Stewart's Picard faces his most personal enemy here in Shinzon and must grapple with heavy moral issues. Although Shinzon is maniacal and antagonistic Picard cannot help but wonder if he would have turned out the same way had his life been like Shinzon's. Stewart delivers a great performance as his character finds his judgement clouded by Shinzon. Shinzon as played by Hardy (Black Hawk Down) with a shaved head and a sculpted latex nose and chin is believable as Picard's doppelganger (although I hate to say that with the pale skin and scarred lip he looks an awful lot like Mike Myers's Dr. Evil). While Picard and Shinzon are dealing with their own issues Spiner's Data is going through his own personal turmoil. His prototype recovered on Kolaris III B-4 is not as advanced as he is prompting Data to turn him into a better android. Not since the Star Trek TNG episode "The Measure of Man" has Data's character been explored so in depth. Cast members Frakes Sirtis Burton and Michael Dorn (Worf) take a back seat in Nemesis allowing the film to focus on the main story line involving Picard Shinzon and Data.
Nemesis was directed by Star Trek newcomer Stuart Baird who stays true to the franchise's tradition by delivering a film that encapsulates a good story with great dialogue without going overboard on the special effects. As the film opens for example the crew has been forced to land on Kolaris III the old-fashioned way since an ion storm has disrupted transporting capabilities. Baird provides some great footage of the planet's surface which is bathed in sepia-toned light complete with the some great shots of the crew riding around in the Argo a sort of high-tech dune buggy. Scribe John Logan (Time Machine) introduces an interesting new race the Remans and a personal foe with Shinzon who although not as menacing as the Borg or as complex as Kahn is just as warped. The most compelling aspect of the film however has to do with Data and his desire to be the best "person" he can be. Nemesis encompasses the kind of dramatic storytelling that made the series created by Gene Roddenberry more than 25 years ago so intriguing. It is also a reminder of what the series was all about: "To explore strange new worlds to seek out new life and new civilization..."