A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.
Top Story: Jackson's Entourage Won't Plea Bargain
A lawyer for two men possibly named as co-conspirators in the Michael Jackson child molestation case said Friday his clients will not cut a deal with prosecutors if they are charged. According to an indictment unsealed last week, Jackson and multiple co-conspirators are charged with plotting to commit abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. New York attorney Joseph Tacopina believes prosecutors will accuse 23-year-old Frank Tyson, Jackson's former personal assistant, of threatening to kill the younger brother of Jackson's alleged victim if he told authorities Jackson had given the boy alcohol, and 24-year-old Vince Amen, who worked for Jackson's production company, with holding the family at Jackson's Neverland estate against their will. Tacopina said Tyson and Amen were invited to testify before the grand jury that heard evidence against Jackson last month, but he declined to have them appear because they hadn't done anything wrong. "If someone made the mistake of charging these guys with a crime, we would absolutely be going to trial," Tacopina added. "There would be no pleas." According to legal experts, prosecutors might seek to charge Jackson's associates in order to offer them a deal if they agreed to testify against the singer, The Associated Press reports.
The Donald Gets Roasted
Real estate mogul and TV reality star Donald Trump will be the subject of the annual New York Friars Club roast Oct. 15, where comedians will do their best to cut the real estate mogul down to size, AP reports. "I am so proud that during our centennial year the name of Donald Trump gets added to the Friars' illustrious list of roastees," Friars Club dean Freddie Roman said in a recent statement. "Considering how hot Donald is, in every aspect of the word, this promises to be one of the largest, if not THE largest roast in our hundred-year history."
Sony Axes Plans for Spidey Logo on Baseball Bases
Sony's plan to promote its upcoming actioner Spider-Man 2 by placing the film's logo on in-field bases in 15 Major League ballparks during the weekend of June 11-13 was thrown out after fans cried foul. Geoffrey Ammer, Worldwide Marketing President for Columbia Pictures, told Variety that an online poll conducted by AOL showed 71 percent opposed the idea of bases-as-logos marketing and an ESPN poll showed 81 percent were against the idea. "The fans reacted in a way that we had no idea they would, and so we decided it best to respect their wishes," Ammer said. But while the bases will now be logo-free, ballparks will still feature in-park and on-field signage for Spider-Man 2, which hits theaters June 30.
Fahrenheit 911 Finds British Distributor
Director Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 911, which Disney has barred its Miramax Films unit from releasing in the United States, will be shown in British cinemas this summer through independent distributor Optimum Releasing. "Fahrenheit 911 is the cornerstone of our 2004 slate," Optimum Releasing's head of distribution, Danny Perkins, told the Financial Times Friday. "It is important that artists and commentators are always free to express their opinions." The doc focuses on post Sept. 11 America and traces links between the Bush family and prominent Saudis, including that of Osama bin Laden. On Thursday, Moore said Disney barred the film's releasing because it might jeopardize tax incentives Disney receives for its Walt Disney theme park in Florida. Disney, meanwhile, has accused Moore of staging a publicity stunt ahead of the film's premiere at the Cannes film festival in France this month.
French Actors' Union Threatens Cannes
The Cannes Film Festival, which runs May 12-23, may highlight more than films this year, if protesters have their way. According to Reuters, 600 riot police will shield the festival from protests by part-time French actors angered by planned cuts to their welfare benefits. But while unions representing some 60,000 to 100,000 part-time actors and technicians affected by the benefit cuts have vowed to disrupt Cannes, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has refused demands to defer the cuts and warned that protesters could not hold the festival hostage. Festival organizers, on the other hand, are trying to work with unions to give them a platform to express themselves peacefully without disrupting the event.
Bowie Cancels Miami Concert After Death of Stagehand
David Bowie canceled a concert in Miami Thursday after a local stagehand was killed in a fall before the show began, Reuters reports. Neither details of the accident at the James L. Knight Center nor the stagehand's identity were disclosed, but the statement by Bowie's publicist said police were investigating. "A statement was read to the audience after the accident, informing them that refund or postponement information would be available shortly," the news release said, adding that Bowie and his tour personnel were deeply saddened by the accident. Bowie is on the second North American leg of his A Reality concert tour, which ends June 5 in New Jersey.
Ricky Martin Sued by Former Manager
Ricky Martin's former manager, Angelo Medina, has filed a $63.5 million lawsuit against the singer for breach of contract, AP reports. Medina claims the 32-year-old pop star failed to live up to terms agreed upon when they ended their contract in September, in which he would have continued managing Martin's career in Puerto Rico but not internationally. As well, Medina is responding to the $2.5 million lawsuit Martin filed against him in New York, in which the singer is demanding that Medina return advance payments for services allegedly not given. The next hearing in Medina's lawsuit is Aug. 13.
Actress Bardot Defends Racist Charges
Former French screen siren Brigitte Bardot spoke up in court Thursday on charges she incited racial hatred in her best-selling book A Cry in the Silence, which speaks out against people of mixed race and the "Islamicization of France," AP reports. Two anti-racism groups filed the complaint against Bardot for her book, which topped French nonfiction best-seller lists last year. In it, she addresses issues such as interracial relationships, immigration, the role of women in politics, and Islam. "I never knowingly wanted to hurt anybody. It is not in my character. If I did hurt someone, I'm sorry," Bardot said at the Paris hearing. Bardot, who could face a maximum o
The outgoing head of comedy programming for the BBC has leveled a
broadside at the corporation on the eve of his departure.
In an interview with Tuesday's London Independent, Geoffrey
Perkins, who is joining Tiger Aspect Productions (which, with Working
Title, produced the hit film Billy Elliot) as creative director,
claimed that in recent years the corporation has focused its attention
on budget accountability and "the mechanical bits of making shows."
That, he said, "has set the people that produce programs in direct
opposition to the people responsible for actually paying for and
Perkins also charged that the BBC "finance people"
have particularly scrutinized sitcoms because they regard them as
He recalled an annual report that noted that the
corporation produced programs that ranged "'all the way from high-value
costume drama...down to sitcom.' ...Unfortunately, the term 'sitcom'
implies a great disdain; [BBC] people say it with a curl of their lips."