November 03, 2004 12:47pm EST
Networks tread lightly on election results
TV networks were determined not to repeat the same mistake they did in the 2000 election by calling out an early winner and instead dubbed the results "too close to call"--with the exception of Fox News Channel and NBC. Fox declared President Bush had won Ohio at 12:41 a.m. EST followed by Alaska at 1 a.m., announcing at least a tie for the presidency with 269 electoral votes. NBC followed suit and called Ohio and Alaska for Bush at 1 a.m. "This race is all but over," NBC anchor Tom Brokaw said. But by 5 a.m., ABC, CBS, CNN and The Associated Press, four other news organizations that received the same vote count and exit poll information as NBC and Fox, had kept Ohio in the "too close to call" category. But Brokaw said the network would not act as the arbiter. "There will be no declaration from us tonight as long as the Kerry campaign is contesting in Ohio," he said. ABC wouldn't call Ohio either--even though analyst George Stephanopoulos said it was almost mathematically impossible for Kerry to win. According to ABC's Terry Moran, the fact that none of the networks were declaring Bush the winner appeared to have irritated the White House. "Essentially…the president and his team is waiting for him to be declared the winner by us," he said. CNN's Jeff Greenfield, meanwhile, told the AP the 2000 election night ignominy--when all of the networks twice prematurely declared a winner in Florida and awarded the presidency to George W. Bush weeks before it was settled--had a lot to do with the network's indeterminate state. "If we hadn't gone through what we had gone through in 2000, we probably would have called Ohio for Bush," Greenfield said.
Jackie Chan not thinking of retirement just yet
Jackie Chan may have turned 50 this year, but the martial arts star has no plans to retire anytime soon. "I don't know how far I can go, but I'll just keep going. I feel I still can do it," Chan told a news conference in Singapore, where he is promoting the share market listing of Hong Kong-based film company Media Asia Entertainment Group Ltd. Chan, best known for performing most of his own stunts, came close to death in 1985 after falling from a tree and splitting his skull open. But he said would like to make more action movies both in Hollywood and Asia." Movies are my business and movies are my job," he said. "But if I am not in front of the screen then I would become a director or producer."
Delaney washes up in The O.C.
Fox's The O.C. and NBC's The West Wing are beefing up their lineups. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Emmy-winner Kim Delaney landed a key role on The O.C. as an ex-flame who reappears in character Sandy Cohen's (Peter Gallagher) life. She is slated to appear in at least five episodes of the show. Teri Polo, meanwhile, will play the potential first lady and wife of Jimmy Smits' character Matthew Santos, a three-term Democratic congressman from Texas with strong presidential aspirations in the political drama The West Wing. Polo is set to do four episodes this season and has an option for 12 more next season, provided the show returns for a seventh year.
CBS, NBC pull shows
CBS' Dr. Vegas and NBC's Father of the Pride have become the first casualties of the new television season, Reuter reports. CBS said it would put the new Rob Lowe drama, which ranked 53rd among prime-time network programs, on an indefinite hiatus, while NBC has yanked Pride, an expensive foray into computer-animated about a family of talking lions, from its schedule completely. The move comes amid admissions by network executives that NBC has struggled this season, with ratings for its target audience of viewers aged 18 to 49 on the decline following years of dominance in that demographic, Reuters reports.
Ailing LL Cool J cancels tour
LL Cool J, who is touring in support of his latest album The DEFinition, has canceled the remaining 12 dates on his tour due to an abdominal ailment, the AP reports. "I am extremely disappointed to have to cancel the rest of this fun and successful tour," the 36-year-old rapper-actor said in a statement. Shows have been canceled in cities including Atlanta and Miami. "I apologize for disappointing my fans who have already bought tickets." A release from his publicist said he is under a doctor's care and requires medication and rest. Ticket holders can seek refunds at the point of purchase.
Patty Duke to have bypass surgery
Actress Patty Duke, who won a best-supporting Oscar in 1963 for her portrayal of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, will undergo single heart bypass surgery Wednesday at an Idaho hospital, the AP reports. Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Johnson said Tuesday the actress is expected to make a successful recovery. Duke, 57, was admitted last spring to the center for insertion of a stent in one of her arteries to improve blood flow. Duke, who was married to John Astin from 1973 to 1985, is the mother of Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin. For years, it was believed John Astin was his father but genetic testing proved rock promoter Michael Tell, whom Duke was to married for less than a month, was actually Sean's father.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
With four days left before his execution notoriously reticent death row inmate David Gale (Kevin Spacey) decides at last to share his story with the press. He chooses as his vessel reporter Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet) who's just spent a week in the slammer for refusing to reveal her sources on a kiddie porn cover story. As Gale's story unfolds (and we see it in flashback) Bitsey becomes convinced he's innocent and she and her intern Zack (Gabriel Mann) begin a race against the clock to discover the truth that will save him. Sound like an overblown blurb from a movie studio's press files? Apologies for that but the best way to talk about this story's climactic points is to resort to hyperbolic clichés of this ilk--the movie's key moments are without exception melodramatic and overblown. Nonetheless most of the movie is suspenseful the story has several interesting (I wouldn't go so far as compelling) twists and there are plenty of reasons to root for Gale's cause especially if like him and admittedly like me you're a political liberal who fancies yourself at least somewhat intellectual.
If there's one thing that defines Kevin Spacey's acting style it's his unparalleled ability to discourse at length on philosophical minutiae a gift that undoubtedly contributed to his getting this role in the first place. But Spacey gets to stretch a bit more playing Gale--the professorial character in his pre-death row life was a loose cannon even by academia's standards: he partied with his students talked about fantasy and desire in class and belonged to Death Watch a liberal advocacy group opposed to the death penalty. Beyond that his personal life was a disaster. His wife was having an affair with a Spaniard Gale was a borderline alcoholic and his ego was the size of a generously proportioned watermelon. So there are plenty of challenges for Spacey in the part--both in the flashbacks and the death row sequences--and he obviously embraces them all; unfortunately sometimes he squeezes the life out of them in the process foregoing for example the tragic nuances of real alcoholism for the stumbling sobriquets of an overblown town-drunk philosopher. The equally gifted Laura Linney as Constance--Gale's stalwart friend fellow professor co-director of Death Watch and alleged murder victim--finds herself in less familiar territory. Her character is complex yet remarkably one-dimensional for most of the movie which leaves the talented actress turning--albeit reluctantly--to melodrama for support. Winslet too is on unfamiliar ground with an American accent (quite well done old chap-ette) a mission and a bitchiness that's too little seen from this pristine young girl.
It's truly unfortunate that director Alan Parker didn't keep a tighter handle on The Life of David Gale's more dramatic moments since had they come off better this would have been a more even and generally more watchable film. As it is each of the talented lead actors has a scene in which they really let loose on the hysterical wailing waterworks--Winslet lucky gal has two. They may not be bad enough to make you cringe necessarily but they're obviously overplayed. The film would have benefited from a wail-o-meter that would have allowed the bawling to go so far and only so far. All that aside though this film is ultimately less melodramatic than its equivalent TV movie version would have (and probably has) been--and that leads me to my final point. The Life of David Gale is about what TV pundits would call a hot-button issue and while the public is intelligent enough not to be emotionally swayed by the hue and cry of activists on either side of the argument we can--and by God we will--be entertained by it. So I just want to say thank you Hollywood for once again one-upping the 6 o'clock news and for showing that even discussions of the most important issues of our time can be squeezed into a two-hour movie and manipulated in the interests of suspense and drama.
Based on the life of New York City police detective Vincent LaMarca City by the Sea vacillates between a true-crime mystery and a family drama. As Vincent (De Niro) investigates the murder of a Long Beach N.Y. drug dealer it becomes painfully clear that his estranged son junkie Joey (James Franco) known on the street as Joey Nova is the prime suspect. Vincent is of course taken off the case but when his partner is killed while pursuing Joey the search becomes the Long Beach police department's top priority--and saving his son from a police department eager for cop-killer blood becomes Vincent's. The fact that Vincent discovers that he has a grandson Angelo doesn't help the situation especially when Joey's supposedly clean ex-junkie girlfriend (Eliza Dushku) leaves the kid at Vincent's apartment when she goes to buy cigarettes and fails to return. Vincent who's always defined himself against his criminal father finds himself forced to decide whether he's a cop or a father and grandfather first a quandary that naturally leads to some pretty compelling if slightly melodramatic scenes for De Niro. Interestingly despite the somber subject matter and the dramatic tone the film still manages a few lighthearted moments which really save it from the pitfalls of its own seriousness.
Sometimes a great cast can make even a mediocre film good and that's what happens in City by the Sea. Even though the dialogue they're given to work with isn't always completely natural--in fact sometimes it's downright contrived--the cast still manages to create a compelling final product. You just can't go wrong with De Niro as a hardened streetwise emotionally distant cop and he makes everyone opposite him look great especially relative newcomer Franco (whose performance as a young James Dean in TNT's James Dean earned him some critical kudos of his own). The young actor swaggers onto the scene like a very young Bob Dylan a hollow-body vintage guitar slung across his back. Of course he's selling it for drugs not heading for a gig. Patti LuPone really sinks her teeth--and catty claws--into her role as LaMarca's bitter ex-wife creating some of the film's most dynamic scenes while Frances McDormand lends her subtly expressive style to the most emotional moments as De Niro's sometime girlfriend Michelle.
Director Michael Caton-Jones delves into the dark side of his imagination with images of a desolate Long Beach: graffiti-covered walls crumbling casinos and a rickety boardwalk--all the detritus of a once-thriving tourist destination. In this grim setting Joey wanders virtually empty streets and beaches where as a child he played happily; meanwhile in Manhattan Vincent is wandering his streets in much the same way. It's an interesting device Caton-Jones uses to show the similarities between the two men and it's as effective at establishing their relationship as the relatively few scenes they have together. At moments like this when the film is making its emotional impact visually it shines; unfortunately City by the Sea relies a little too often on its average dialogue and does a little too much telling and not enough showing.
A salty skipper sets sail with his motley crew on a three-hour tour ... oops actually on a commercial fishing expedition as storms collide to give the Andrea Gail and crew the cruise of their lives. Ten-story waves and a crumbling ocean cruiser threaten to cut those lives tragically short in this Weather-Channel-on-steroids disaster flick. Unfortunately "The Perfect Storm" starts with a drizzle dampened by cheesy subplots but strap yourself in because this film rocks when the waves get rolling.
Can we end the debate about George Clooney having what it takes to be a movie star right here? After kicking butt in "Out of Sight" and "Three Kings " the former "E.R." stud has amply proven himself. He's every bit the leading man here as a fisherman who's in over his head (literally). To say that Mark Wahlberg plays Gilligan to Clooney's skipper wouldn't be quite fair; he completely sheds his Calvin Klein-clad image as a seaman who's love of swordfishing could cost him his girl and his life. But beware: "Storm" is no "Titanic" disaster-glam here. Clooney and Wahlberg are seriously shaggy and grungy for the entire 2+ hours.
Wolfgang Petersen mercifully avoids the silliness of recent disaster spectacles such as "Twister" and "Volcano " instead attempting to tell this true story with dignity. He flounders with the maudlin "Men Who Fish Too Much and the Women Who Love Them" backstory but redeems himself with ocean storms so sensational you won't be able to cancel your Carnival Cruise quickly enough.
Peterson gives us glimpses of the boats deeper into the storm than the Andrea Gail showing us what's in store for our heroes and building a near-unbearable level of tension.