Get ready to have some new tunes to jam out to this Holiday season. Yes, we still can cherish old faves like "Silent Night," but Jennifer Hudson's latest musically-fueled film Black Nativity is sure to expand your Christmas iTunes playlist.
After struggling mother (Hudson) faces eviction — despite her uncanny belting ability — she sends her son off to live with his estranged grandparents in Harlem. While Hudson's character grapples with making enough dough for her and her son to merely get by, her boy (named Langston in honor of the appraised writer) questions if he is the source of his mother's strife.
The upcoming Christmas flick is a newfangled twist on Langston Hughes' "gospel-song play" from 1961 about Jesus' birth.
With an all star cast including Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, and even Mary J. Blidge and rapper Nas, this musical drama remixes Christmas staples with hip-hop when it comes into theatres November 27th.
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Penn, who played stoner icon Jeff Spicoli in the 1982 film, will reportedly join co-stars Judge Reinhold, Robert Romanus, Brian Backer and Forest Whitaker, and director Amy Heckerling at the event in Los Angeles, according to EW.com.
Robert De Niro will present the cast with trophies.
Paul Greengrass' harrowing 9/11 drama United 93 was named film of the year by British critics last night.
The film picked up the top prize at the annual London Film Critics' Circle Awards, beating rivals The Queen, Volver and Little Miss Sunshine.
Judge Marianne Gray praised the film, saying, "It's an incredibly good film. It's perfectly directed by Paul Greengrass and it's a ripping story."
But the main winner overall was awards favorite The Queen--which won Best Director for Stephen Frears, Best Screenplay for Peter Morgan and Best British Actress for Helen Mirren.
However, Mirren, who is the hot favorite to win Best Actress at this month's Oscars, lost out on the actress of the year prize--which went to Meryl Streep for The Devil Wears Prada.
Forest Whitaker continued his fine run of form this awards season--he won Best Actor, bringing the number of awards for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland to 22.
Other winners included Toby Jones for Best British Actor for Infamous, The Devil Wears Prada's Emily Blunt for Best British Supporting Actress and Michael Caine for Best British Supporting Actor for his performance in The Prestige.
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Madonna and Warner Music Settle Maverick Dispute
Warner Music Group has agreed to buy Madonna out of Maverick Records, the label she co-founded 12 years ago, The Associated Press reports. The label debuted strongly with Alanis Morissette's 1995 multiplatinum debut album Jagged Little Pill and more recently scored hits with Michelle Branch, the Prodigy, the Deftones and Story of the Year. Madonna, along with partners Guy Oseary and Ronnie Dashev, owned 60 percent of the company while Warner Music held 40 percent. But the partnership turned sour in March when Maverick filed a lawsuit against WMG, claiming the company didn't adequately fund the label. WMG rejected that claim in a counter suit, referring to Maverick's $64.2 million in losses over the last six years. The label had been scheduled to dissolve in December but Maverick's investors would have had to reimburse WMG for $92.5 million in losses, loans and fees in order to buy Warner Music's 40 percent share in the label. Under the new agreement, both sides will drop their lawsuits. WMG will also keep Oseary, who will stay with Maverick as CEO. WMG said Maverick will place greater emphasis on signing and developing artists and will have the ability to draw on the parent company's resources.
Distributors Seek PG-13 Rating for Fahrenheit 9/11
Distributors Lions Gate Films and IFC Films are appealing to the Motion Picture Association of America to lessen its current R rating for Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 to PG-13. Images in the film include a public beheading in Saudi Arabia, Iraqis burned by napalm and a gruesome scene of an Iraqi man dumping a dead baby into a truck bed loaded with bodies. "It is sadly very possible that many 15- and 16-year-olds will be asked and recruited to serve in Iraq in the next couple of years," Moore told the AP. "If they are old enough to be recruited and capable of being in combat and risking their lives, they certainly deserve the right to see what is going on in Iraq." A screening by the MPAA's appeals board has been set for June 22--just three days before the film's US release date.
Judge Refuses To Lower Jackson's Bail
In a ruling released Monday, Santa Barbara County Judge Rodney S. Melville has refused to lower Michael Jackson's $3 million bail in his child molestation case, saying the singer's wealth justified the higher-than-normal bail amount, the AP reports. Melville added that the bail should remain higher than what is typically imposed on defendants facing similar charges to ensure that Jackson appears at future court dates. Jackson's bail was set and uncontested when he was arrested in November, but the singer's new attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., requested bail be reduced to no more than $435,000 when he took over the case in April. He said there were no legal grounds for setting Jackson's bail higher than normal simply because of his wealth, but prosecutors argued the pop star was likely to flee the country if his bail was reduced.
T-Boz Files for Divorce
T-Boz of the female R&B group TLC has filed for divorce from her husband, rapper Mack 10, saying he committed adultery and threatened to kill her, the AP reports. The 34-year-old singer has also arranged for a temporary restraining order against the rapper, barring him from coming within 100 yards of her, and is seeking full custody of their 3-year-old daughter, Chase Anela. The couple married in August 2000 and is now separated. T-Boz, whose real name is Tionne Tenese Watkins Rolison, said in an affidavit that Mack 10 threatened to kill her several times, beginning in October 2002 and most recently on June 8. Mack 10, whose real name is Dedrick D-Mon Rolison, denied the allegations, saying his wife has made the claims "for the sole purpose of attempting to gain an advantage in these proceedings" and to prevent him from seeing their daughter.
Author Claims Extreme Makeover Was Her Idea
Author Diana Locke filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court late last week claiming a talent agency and a producer stole her idea for what has become the hit TV series Extreme Makeover, Reuters reports. According to the suit, Locke pitched the idea of a show focusing on the emotional and psychological aspects of plastic surgery to a producer friend in August 2001. He then discussed the idea with his agent Sean Perry. But after failing to sell the idea to a cable network, Locke's friend dropped the concept. The suit alleges Perry then presented the idea to producer, Howard Schultz, who sold it to ABC as Extreme Makeover. The suit, which claims breach of confidence, conspiracy and unjust enrichment, seeks damages of at least $10 million.
P. Diddy Hits the Road
Rap mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs will launch the Daddy's House Dance Party world tour this summer, along with a new album on his Bad Boy record label, the AP reports. Combs, who hasn't released an album since 2002's We Invented the Remix, will preview what's in store for fans at a party in Manhattan Thursday for Entertainment Weekly's upcoming "Must List" issue, which hits newsstands Friday. Combs, 34, has been starring as Walter Lee Younger in the Broadway revival of Raisin in the Sun and was recently named menswear designer of the year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America for his Sean John clothing line.
Charo, Flava Flav Join Surreal Life
VH1will air the third season of the former WB reality series The Surreal Life with the likes of Charo, Dave Coulier (Full House), Public Enemy's Flava Flav, New Kids on the Block alum Jordan Knight, Brigitte Nielsen (Red Sonja) and American Idol contenstant Ryan Starr. The series bows Sept. 6.
Role Call: DiCaprio's in Bear Market, Aniston Shoots War, Whitaker Brings a Gun
Leonardo DiCaprio and his production company Appian Way have teamed with Columbia Pictures to produce the biopic The Man Who Loved Grizzlies, about environmentalist Ted Treadwell. Based on Ned Zeman's article published in the May issue of Vanity Fair, the film focuses on Treadwell, a controversial and charismatic figure, the bears' self-appointed goodwill ambassador who looked like a Malibu surfer. Spending months at a time in the wilds of Alaska, he took the anti-poaching cause as his own but had no training beyond his talents as a photographer and naturalist ... Jennifer Aniston is being touted to play famed war photographer Dickey Chapelle in Warner Bros. biopic. Chapelle, a blonde, blue-eyed beauty who covered WWII for Look magazine and Reader's Digest, became a heralded photographer because of her willingness to march to the front lines. She died in Vietnam after tripping a landmine while accompanying Marines on a secret sabotage mission ... Forest Whitaker is set to star in American Gun, an ensemble drama described as "a series of interwoven story lines focusing on how the proliferation of guns in America affects and shapes lives," the filmmakers told the Hollywood Reporter. Donald Sutherland, Linda Cardellini (Scooby-Doo 2) and Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon (Barbershop 2) are in negotiations to join Whitaker, who will also serve as an executive producer.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
Happy, happy...joy, joy! That lovable animated cat Stimpy and his Chihuahua friend Ren are making a comeback on TNN. The cable network bought the rights to all 52 episodes that ran on Nickelodeon from 1991 to 1995 and will be restoring deleted footage to some of the originals, TV Guide reports. Series creator John Kricfalusi is also reportedly on board to create brand-new episodes for the gross-out cartoon, to be aired next year.
That's Dr. Schwarzenegger to you. Taking a break from filming Terminator 3, action star Arnold Schwarzenegger received an honorary doctorate degree Sunday from Chapman University in Orange, Calif. The degree, a Doctor of Humane Letters, recognizes Schwarzenegger and his work with the Special Olympics and the Inner-City Games Foundation.
The two men accused of blackmailing Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe were cleared of their charges Monday. Judge John Williams of the Coffs Harbor District Court in Australia ordered the jury to acquit the men because the prosecution failed to prove they demanded money from Crowe in return for destroying an incriminating video of Crowe in a brawl outside a bar.
And the Hollywood Walk of Fame grows. Director Martin Scorsese, Etta James, Kevin Bacon, Susan Sarandon and Kermit the Frog will be getting their own Walk of Fame stars next year.
Actor/director Forest Whitaker will be taking the reins of the supernatural thriller Selling Time. The story centers on a man who gets the chance to relive the worst day of his life with some unexpected consequences. Whitaker, whose acting credits include Panic Room, The Crying Game and the The Color of Money, has directed Hope Floats starring Sandra Bullock and Waiting to Exhale with Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett.
Donald Trump as the beauty pageant king inked a $50 million deal with NBC to broadcast three beauty pageants, including Miss USA, Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA. NBC replaces CBS, which sold its 50 percent stake in the Miss Universe Organization back to Trump, according to Variety.
The World Wrestling Entertainment's two signature primetime shows, Raw Is War and Smackdown, have lost a majority of male teenage audiences in what Variety has dubbed a "teen exodus." According to Nielsen numbers, Smackdown has lost 35 percent of its 12-to-17-year-old males compared with the same period last year, while Raw Is War shows a desertion rate in males 12 to 17 of 19 percent year to year.
The British Army said Sunday it is withdrawing a recruitment video that featured two Oasis songs, "Wonderwall" and "Hello," because it never had the group's permission to use the tracks, The Associated Press reports. The video, which depicted soldiers conducting exercises in Kenya to songs from Oasis' 1995 best-selling album (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, was being shown in schools and shopping malls. A Defense Ministry official told the AP the regiment did not realize it needed permission to use the songs.
Amidst protestation, a church in Alamogordo, New Mexico burned Harry Potter and other books Sunday. Jack Brock, pastor and founder of the Christ Community Church, called the book burning a "blessing" and called the literary works "masterpieces of satanic deception," teaching children witchcraft, according to The Associated Press. Across the street from the church, protesters held signs saying, "Book burning? Shame on our town."
Britain honored some of their best when the Queen's New Year Honors List for 2002 was announced Monday. Actor Ben Kingsley, boxer Lennox Lewis and pop sensations The Bee Gees were among some of the lucky Brits to make the cut.
American Music Awards producer Dick Clark is mad at the King of Pop. Michael Jackson has backed out of appearing on the awards show Jan. 9, due to a conflict with the Grammy Awards, where Jackson is also scheduled to perform. Clark has filed suit against the Grammy organizers for what he calls "blacklisting" where the Grammys stipulate an artist cannot perform on the show if they also perform on the American Music Awards.
Rosie O'Donnell held a $250 per person private fund-raiser Sunday for Janet Reno, the former U.S. attorney general and current Democratic candidate for Florida state governor. "When I heard that she was running I called her office and told her I would do any and everything I can," O'Donnell told the AP.
Brian Warner, aka Marilyn Manson, has escaped jail time when a U.S. judge dropped the sexual misconduct charges against the rocker. Manson now faces fines of $2,000 for an assault and battery charge.
Who says the 1970s Bill Cosby cartoon Fat Albert isn't still the bomb? First, UPN's Christmas Eve special The Fat Albert Christmas Special won its 8 p.m. time slot and now a big screen version will be released in 2003, directed by Forest Whitaker. Hey, hey, hey!
One of the main roads in Austin, Texas was shut down Friday, but lined with fans, when the 68-year-old country singer Willie Nelson rode a horse down the street while filming a music video. The video is for a duet Nelson did with Lee Ann Womack.
The Clintons got into the holiday spirit in New York Thursday night, at the Brassiere 81/2, according to The Post. Dad Bill, mom Hillary and daughter Chelsea partied on, especially Bill and Chelsea who reportedly were hitting the vodka pretty hard. Reportedly ex-pres Bill lost his cell phone between the restaurant and his limo.
Crooner Barry Manilow isn't talking--quite literally. Manilow has been ordered to be completely silent for a few days due to severe bronchitis and had to postpone three weekend concert appearances. His New Year's Eve show, however, will go on as scheduled. Thank God.
This is a tough one to judge. You never get any explanation of who these people are or why they do what they do; if you don't know the video game you're basically thrown into Tomb Raider blind. Just go with it and figure it'll all make sense eventually. It does--for the most part. Lara Croft (Jolie) who is carrying on her deceased father's (Jon Voight) work as an English archaeologist/antiquities hunter uncovers an ancient puzzle that she must solve before it's too late. Centuries before a mysterious otherworldly object with a godlike power to alter time was split in two and the pieces buried in tombs on opposite ends of the earth. Jolie must race against time to find both halves of the object and destroy it before a leader of an evil secret society (Iain Glen) gets his hands on it.
With her long dark braid and impossible figure (thanks to some stuffing up top) Jolie certainly is a dead ringer for über-heroine Croft. Her hoity-toity monotone Brit accent is sporadic and fleeting; she slips in and out of it as often and easily as she does impending death. Our globetrotting superwoman switches languages as needed winning over Buddhist monks and little Mongolian girls in the process (tell me please how she wears a T-shirt while dog sledding in Siberia while everyone else is bundled up in parkas? That bra must've been padded with Thinsulate). Jolie can kick butt with the best of 'em but she's tiresome. All arch looks and badass 'tude this Kelly-LeBrock-for-the-new-millennium is not terribly much fun. Granted Croft has serious work to do but a little lightheartedness goes a long way. Raiders of the Lost Ark this ain't.
Given that there's little story line acted out by characters with whom it's hard to connect since you have no idea who they are the movie surprisingly manages to keep your attention for a couple hours. Then again that could be due to the tremendous and seemingly never-ending clamor on screen where every few seconds a hailstorm of bullets showers the scene or really big things are happening--gargantuan rock statues turn into sword-wielding CGI beasts enormous retro-futuristic contraptions like something out of Brazil materialize from the earth beams of light descend from the distant beyond. Or maybe it's just the mesmerizing effect of waiting for Jolie's lips to crawl across her face like two fat slugs going after the magic jasmine Daddy Croft told Lara about.