December 24, 2003 10:04am EST
Top Story: James Garner Becomes 8 Simple Rules Regular
Touchstone TV, the producers of ABC's 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, has signed veteran actor James Garner as a regular to its sophomore comedy. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Garner will appear in all remaining episodes of the season as Grandpa Jim, the father of Katey Sagal's character, the widowed Cate Hennessy. He has guest-starred in all episodes of the show to date, starting with the emotional Nov. 4 one-hour segment, the first episode without star John Ritter, who died of a heart ailment in September. His character came to support Cate and three teenage grandchildren as they dealt with the realities of becoming a single-parent family. The 75-year-old Garner, who took a fall on the set of the show last week and bruised his hip, is set to return to 8 Simple Rules Jan. 5 in an episode guest-starring David Spade, who signed on to do a multiple-episode arc.
Maverick Films Launches Screenwriting Competition
Madonna and Guy Oseary's Maverick Films has teamed with online script scouting service ScriptShark--a division of Baseline/Filmtracker, which is owned by Hollywood Media Corp., Hollywood.com's parent company--to launch the Maverick Blueprint Screenwriting Competition. According to Variety, the grand prizewinner will receive $10,000 and a 12-month option with Maverick. The second place winner will receive $5,000 while third place will get $2,000. All three winners will also receive the opportunity to sign for management representation with Concept Entertainment. The deadline to enter the contest is Feb. 29.
CBS May Air Jackson Special
Michael Jackson Number Ones, CBS' Michael Jackson music special that was scrapped last month when child molestation allegations against the singer surfaced, may air after all. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter Tuesday that the network is considering a January airdate for the hour-long retrospective, which was originally scheduled for Nov. 26 in conjunction with the release of Jackson's greatest hits album, Michael Jackson Number Ones. TV news circles were also abuzz yesterday about Jackson possibly sitting down for an interview with Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes next month.
Bruckheimer Shows Dominate Primetime Ratings
CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Without a Trace and CSI: Miami-- three different shows produced by Jerry Bruckheimer--were the three most-watched programs on prime-time television last week, giving the network a win in the week's ratings race. Cold Case, a fourth Bruckheimer show, was ranked ninth in last week's prime-time numbers, compiled by Nielsen Media Research. The top shows for the week of Dec. 15-21 were: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 24.7 million; Without a Trace, CBS, 19.4 million; CSI: Miami, 19.2 million; NFL Monday Night Football: Philadelphia at Miami, ABC, 18.8 million; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 18.1 million; Two and a Half Men, CBS, 14.8 million; NFL Monday Showcase, ABC, 14.3 million; Cold Case, CBS, 14 million; Primetime Special Edition, ABC, 13.9 million.
Recording Academy Chooses Lifetime Award Recipients
Recording artists Van Cliburn, the Funk Brothers, Ella Jenkins, Sonny Rollins, Artie Shaw and Doc Watson will receive lifetime achievement awards at next year's Grammy Awards ceremony, The Associated Press reports. Jazz producer Orrin Keepnews, songwriting duo Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and pianist/radio host Marian McPartland will receive Trustees Awards. Both recipients of the special merit awards will be officially acknowledged in a ceremony during a weeklong celebration leading up to the 46th annual Grammy Awards ceremony, set to take place Feb. 8 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The show will be telecast live on CBS.
Springsteen Top Concert Earner of 2003
Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band ruled the concert business in 2003, raking in a whopping $115.9 million for 47 concerts, including 13 stadium shows in the New York area, the AP reports. The numbers, released by the concert industry trade publication Pollstar, aren't final yet, but editor Gary Bongiovanni predicts 2003 will be the fourth record-setting year in a row with around $2.4 billion in concert business. Bongiovanni said that's largely because fans have accepted higher ticket prices for big-name acts, particularly veterans. Rounding out the Top Five earners for the year were Celine Dion, the Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel and the Billy Joel-Elton John double bill, all of which charged more than $100 per ticket on average.
Academy Award Winning Animator Dies
Academy Award winning animator Wah Ming Chang died Monday in Carmel, Calif., at the age of 86, the AP reports. Born in Honolulu, Chang moved to San Francisco in the early 1920s. Chang was instrumental in creating a stop-motion animation production of The Three Bears, and he also designed costumes for the film The King and I, created masks for Planet of the Apes and made Elizabeth Taylor's headdress in Cleopatra. But it was his work on the 1960 feature The Time Machine that earned him an Oscar for special effects. Chang married Glenella Taylor in 1941 in Texas, since California law at the time did not allow marriage between a Chinese and a Caucasian. Taylor, his wife of nearly 60 years, died in 1997. Chang is survived by a half-sister and several nieces and nephews.
Comedian Lenny Bruce Gets Posthumous Pardon
Comedian Lenny Bruce, who died of a drug overdose in 1966 at the age of 39, was pardoned Tuesday for a 1964 obscenity conviction over a raunchy, irreverent monologue at the Cafe Au Go Go in New York, Reuters reports. New York Gov. George Pataki issued what his office said was the first posthumous pardon in the state's history: "Freedom of speech is one of the greatest American liberties and I hope this pardon serves as a reminder of the precious freedoms we are fighting to preserve." A group of lawyers and comedians, including Robin Williams and The Smothers Brothers, petitioned Pataki earlier this year, saying the posthumous pardon would help set the record straight on the career of a man who helped transform comedy.
Role Call: Stormare To Play Satan in Constantine
P.J. Hogan's Peter Pan follows J.M. Barrie's story almost to the letter. A girl on the brink of womanhood Wendy Darling (newcomer Rachel Hurd-Wood) loves telling her brothers John (Harry Newell) and Michael (Freddie Popplewell) stories of dastardly pirates as they sit in their nursery under the watchful eye of their St. Bernard Nana. Her 19th-century Londoner parents however believe the time has come for the young girl to grow up especially her father. Then a cheeky wild-haired boy named Peter Pan (Jeremy Sumpter) flies through the nursery window one night with his trusted yet jealousy-prone fairy Tinkerbell (Ludivine Sagnier) telling Wendy he can take her to a place full of adventure where no one ever has to grow up. She readily accepts the offer and with a few happy thoughts some fairy dust and her two brothers in tow she flies off to Neverland. (Not the ranch…the real place.) Once there Wendy encounters mermaids Indians and the Lost Boys (who refer to her as "mother") and gets the whole pirate experience in Peter's ongoing feud with arch-nemesis Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs). But Wendy soon becomes conflicted because on the one hand she likes hangin' with hottie Peter but on the other she misses her mother. She decides it's probably best to go back and grow up but in her hurry to leave she ends up in Hook's clutches. A rescue ensues. Swords clash ticking crocodiles are fed and fairies are saved as our clever fly boy zooms Wendy and company back to London on a giant pirate ship. But does he stay and grow up himself? Hell no he's a Toys 'R Us kid forever!
All the kid actors in Peter Pan are highly watchable and appealing with angelic faces peaches-and-cream complexions and pouty cherry lips. This is the first time Peter is being played by a real-life boy a fact much hyped by the filmmakers and 12-year-old Sumpter (Frailty) does his best to live up to the expectations. (He's soon to be swoon-worthy material for sure.) He's got a mischievous gleam in his eye and a great sly smile but he really lights up when he's looking into Wendy's adorable face. Hurd-Wood the first-time actress who plays the spirited girl earned her role after a long and involved casting process it's well deserved; she fits the typical English-girl profile perfectly and gets the hang of her craft quickly infusing the character with a natural cheerful energy. It's also refreshing to see the young actors play up Wendy and Peter's feelings of first love which prior films always hinted at but never fully realized. Isaacs in a dual role as the firm-but-loving Mr. Darling and the frightening comical lonely charming needy reprehensible Captain Hook draws on his experience at playing exquisitely awful baddies (The Patriot Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and really sinks his claws into Hook. In a stand out supporting role French actress Sagnier (Swimming Pool) is really fantastic as the vivacious non-speaking Tinkerbell portraying the fairy's conflicted emotions with a silent-film over-the-top technique.
Director/writer P.J. Hogan (My Best Friend's Wedding) and his team try to distinguish their film from the other Peter Pans of the world by using all the technical and special effects wizardry at their disposal. Hogan says his Peter Pan is the way its author Barrie intended to be when he wrote it as a play over a 100 years ago--full of fantasy and wonder. In a way he's right and production designer Roger Ford and visual effects supervisor Scott Farrar take his vision and run with it giving audiences a very lush Neverland with waterfalls fluffy pink clouds crystal-blue waters and a gorgeous fairy world. But despite the bells and whistles there really isn't anything original and different in this Pan. Even its look at the dark side of Neverland has been done in Steven Spielberg's 1991 semi-sequel Hook which showed the dangers of Neverland. In this version lives really are at stake and the pirates are not cute and fun. Even the mermaids are mysterious and malevolent with scary faces and murderous intentions a far cry from the beautiful if somewhat mean-spirited creatures of the 1953 classic Disney animated adaptation another inescapable influence on the audience. When the crocodile draws near for example tick-tocking away the croc's signature tune from the Disney film comes immediately to mind. People may love those Disney films for those cutesy catchy songs but Peter Pan really is a good story. Heck it's a great story. But it's just been done.