United ArtistsDespite the fact that the majority of action films would cease to exist without them, the campaign to introduce an Oscar honoring the best stuntmen and stuntwomen of the year has been constantly rejected since 1991. Jason Statham became the latest star to speak up for those 'risking their necks' in the name of entertainment last month, describing the repeated snubs as 'a total injustice.' Here are five death-defying stunts which suggest the Transporter lead has a point.The Spy Who Loved MeEasily the most awe-inspiring opening to a Bond movie, stuntman Rick Sylvester almost didn't survive his breath-taking ski-jump off Canada's Asgard Peak when one of his detached skis very nearly ripped his Union Jack-themed parachute.Police StoryJackie Chan is unlikely to ever trouble the Oscars for his acting skills but he certainly deserves a statue for his stunt work. None more so than on 1985's Police Story where he jumps from the top floor of a shopping mall, slides down several storeys of light bulbs and smashes into a glass ceiling.Ben-HurCGI would no doubt be used to create Ben-Hur's legendary chariot race these days, but back in 1959 it was an actual human being, Joe Canutt, who was given the responsibility of pulling off the film's most death-defying stunt. An unexpected bounce which threw him into the air as his chariot leaped over the wreckage of another only makes it even more spectacular.Raiders Of The Lost ArkStuntman Terry Leonard had previously had his legs run over while attempting a similar series of dangerous stunts during The Legend of the Lone Ranger the same year. But thankfully, he managed to get knocked over the hood of a truck, crawl underneath the speeding vehicle and drag himself to safety without suffering a serious injury in Indiana Jones' first outing.Ong-BakLead actor and trained martial artist Tony Jaa could have taken up this entire list with the jaw-dropping feats he performed in 2003's Ong-Bak. But the bike fight scene in which he leaps from a raging inferno, spins through the air and delivers a knock-out kick with his legs aflame is perhaps the most impressive.
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
Redford Says He's Not Selling Sundance Resort
Robert Redford is denying a report published in the New York Post last week that claimed the actor/filmmaker was planning to sell his Sundance resort in Utah's Wasatch Mountains and looking to cash out of the Sundance Channel cable network. "In response to a story generated by unnamed sources in a New York tabloid, please be advised that I have absolutely no intention of selling Sundance Village," Redford said a statement issued Wednesday. He added that his commitment to the ski area, arts and culture center and corporate retreat was "stronger than ever." But Redford, who owns the 6,000-acre resort 25 miles south of Salt Lake City at the base of 12,000-foot Mount Timpanogos, didn't address reports he was looking to sell his stake in the Sundance channel cable network to his partners, Viacom Inc. and NBC Universal. The Post reported last Thursday that Redford is looking to cash out a $60 million-plus stake in the Sundance network, which is valued between $300 million to $400 million. A Sundance Channel spokeswoman told The Associated Press said she could not deny or confirm that report.
Spears Undergoes Knee Surgery in NYC
Pop princess Britney Spears underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in New York Wednesday after injuring herself during a late-night video shoot, Reuters reports. Spears had just completed a scene with rapper Snoop Dogg for a video of her single "Outrageous" and was doing choreography under the L Train line on Roosevelt Avenue in Manhattan when her left knee gave out. According to a statement from Spears' label Jive Records, the 22-year-old singer was immediately taken to a local hospital, where doctors performed an MRI scan and found floating cartilage in her knee. A previous knee injury while performing in Illinois forced Spears to cancel some concert dates earlier this year.
Mark Burnett Pitching Rock Star Reality Show
Mark Burnett, the creator behind the hit TV reality shows Survivor and The Apprentice, is pitching an idea for Rock Star, which would see contestants compete for the chance to sing in an established rock band and go on a world tour, the AP reports. "I feel that there's room on TV for more than one great big talent show, and I feel that rock music has been totally left out of that mix," Burnett told the syndicated TV show Access Hollywood. Burnett said Rock Star that unlike American Idol the winner would not be determined entirely by a public vote, but also by the band and an independent judge. He would not reveal the band.
Hollywood Celebs To Carry Olympic Torch in L.A.
Tom Cruise, Ellen DeGeneres and Sylvester Stallone will be among the bearers of the Olympic torch when it arrives in Los Angeles on June 16, the AP reports. The torch will also make stops in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Atlanta and New York before worldwide relay ends at the Athens Games in Greece in August. The celebs were chosen by Samsung, a sponsor of the Olympic Torch Relay, for their show business accomplishments and their contributions to worthy causes.
Welcome to "The O.C." Airport?
Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby has suggested the community's John Wayne Airport might benefit from being renamed "The O.C. Airport," after Fox's hit drama The O.C. about oversexed teenagers living in the affluent, conservative region south of Los Angeles. According to Reuters, Norby said he would like to capitalize on growing recognition for the county. But not everyone in the community is in agreement, including Karen Anderson, the editor of CityLine, the bimonthly publication of the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce. "TV shows come and go. We could call it the American Idol Airport," she said. "I think they should just leave well enough alone." What's more, The O.C. is actually filmed in various cities in neighboring Los Angeles County.
Liz Taylor Settles Sexual Harassment Suit
No, Elizabeth Taylor hasn't harassed anyone--but her butler may have. According to Reuters, Taylor reached an out of court settlement with a former landscaper who claimed he had been fired for refusing the sexual advances of the actress' butler. Willem Van Muyden filed the breach of contract and sex discrimination lawsuit a year ago, after he rebuked the advances of Taylor's French butler. Van Muyden asked for unspecified damages for being fired by Taylor without being paid $294,000 he said he was owed for 10 years of gardening work. Details of the settlement were not available.
Role Call: Chappelle's a Super Freak
Comedian Dave Chappelle is in early negotiations to play funkmaster Rick James in Memoirs of a Super Freak, based on the musician's upcoming memoirs. James, 56, best known for his 1981 hit "Super Freak (Part I)," has been working on a book for some time. Producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura is in negotiations to acquire the rights for a Paramount film.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
Another body blow for "Rocky."
According to reports today, the hit-challenged Sylvester Stallone, who last year complained he was, yo, "a man without a country," is now minus a big-time deal with Universal Pictures that reportedly guaranteed him $20 mil per flick.
No word on when exactly the pact was terminated, or who did the terminating. (Stallone's camp issued a "no comment" on the Daily Variety report.) We only know this: Stallone hasn't had a certified hit since "Cliffhanger" and "Demolition Man," both released in 1993.
We also know this: The landmark $60 million, three-picture deal, between Universal and the middle-aged action star in August 1995, produced just one movie, the as-yet-unreleased thriller "D-Tox."
But all is not lost for our fiftysomething fellow. Lately, Stallone has been keeping busy with a remake of "Get Carter," the 1971 action film starring Michael Caine, for Warner Bros. That film is due out this fall. "D-Tox" is penciled in for a Sept. 1 release.
BRONTOSAURUS BURGER KING: The Flintstones are coming back just a little bit early, and their aim is to sell hamburgers.
According to Variety, Universal is moving the release date for "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" up to April 28, two weeks earlier than originally planned, with an eye toward selling truckloads of ground beef in addition to movie tickets.
"We wanted to get it out early because it's a great film, and our tie-in with Burger King will be ready to go," Nikki Rocco, Universal's president of distribution, told Variety.
Certainly the competition also has something to do with it. The new release date pits "Viva Rock Vegas" as the lone comedy against a trio of dramas also opening that week.
Starring "The Full Monty's" Mark Addy as Fred and Stephen Baldwin as Barney, "Viva Rock Vegas" is the prequel to 1994's "The Flintstones," which featured John Goodman and Rick Moranis in those roles.
CURTAIN UP! Those movie industry mavericks and indie favorites at Miramax Films are embarking on a new venture: Broadway.
Variety reports that Miramax will co-finance the Tom Stoppard play "The Real Thing" for a 20-week run at the Barrymore Theatre starting April 17. The company is said to be considering co-financing other plays as well.
THE LAST LAUGH, ER, 'SCREAM': First "The Blair Witch Project," now "Scream 3." In what might be the first of several spoofs of the horror hit, Entertaindom.com has purchased the rights to "Scream 33 1/3," an eight-minute short film that can be viewed on the Entertaindom site. "Scream 33 1/3" was made by brothers Boaz and Tamir Halaban, whose previous credits include -- wouldn't you know it? -- a short called "The Making of the Blair Witch Project: The Blair Witch Project Project."