The story of the late great Johnny Cash depicted in Walk the Line is not quite all encompassing. The film dramatizes just one moment in Cash's life: his tumultuous 20s and rise to fame. The young Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) married and straight out of the army struggles with his music finally finding his patented blend of country blues and rock music. Haunted by a troubled childhood Cash sings songs about death love treachery and sin--and shoots straight to the top of the charts. On tour he also meets and falls for his future wife June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) whose refusal to meddle with a married man only further fuels the fire and contributes to his eventual drug addiction. Their cat-and-mouse love story provides the film’s core but unfortunately can’t quite overcome Walk the Line’s formulaic nature. Biopics are generally good to actors. Phoenix and Witherspoon could easily each walk away with Oscar statuettes for turning in two of the most jaw-dropping spellbinding performances since well Jamie Foxx in Ray. Neither actor had any musical background whatsoever but they both underwent painstaking transformations for the sake of authenticity doing all of their own singing as well as guitar-playing for Phoenix. The actor's performance is purely raw and visceral; his vulnerability is aptly palpable at first but then he becomes the Cash with the unflinching swagger. Witherspoon's Carter is Cash's temptress and she'll be yours too by movie's end. She eerily reincarnates Carter as if she was born to play the part. If Walk the Line is the ultimate actor's canvas then Phoenix and Witherspoon make priceless art-and music-together. While good for the actors biopics can prove to be difficult for the director. It’s hard to highlight a person’s life without it coming off like a TV movie of the week. Unfortunately director James Mangold (Copland) plays it safe with Walk the Line. The duets between Johnny and June on stage are about the only electrifying moments of the film. The rest is pretty stereotypical. And it isn’t because the film only focuses on certain years of Cash's life. It's simply not possible to fit a lifetime into the short duration of a film. The problem instead is that Mangold's presentation of Cash's life would lead one to believe that Cash actually exorcised his demons. But in reality his lifelong demons are what endeared him to the layperson. There was nothing cut and dry about the Cash story--and adding a little grit would have given Walk the Line the edge it needed.
Britney makes marriage official, drops manager
Pop princess Britney Spears formalized her union with dancer Kevin Federline on Thursday, filing for a marriage license, Reuters reports. As Spears, 22, and Federline, 26, exchanged vows in a secret wedding ceremony in Los Angeles last month, rival tabloid magazines reported the marriage may have been fake. Spears acknowledged then that the couple had yet to file a marriage license--as California law requires within 90 days of the ceremony--but insisted their wedding was real. "All the proper paperwork was dealt with [Thursday], filed, done. It's all legal," Spears' publicist, Leslie Sloane, told Reuters. At the same time she finalized her nuptials, Spears also split with her longtime manager, Larry Rudolph, who announced Thursday that he and the singer had "mutually agreed not to renew their nine-year management relationship." Rudolph is credited with discovering the Louisiana native when she was just 13 years old, helping guide her early career and building her into one of the most successful recording stars in recent years. In a statement, Rudolph said, "Britney and I simply realized what we have done all we can do together."
Stewart reports to jail
Homemaking guru Martha Stewart arrived at a minimum-security prison in Alderson, West Virginia, known as "Camp Cupcake" in the wee hours of the morning Friday to begin her five-month sentence, Reuters reports. Stewart told her fans through her Web site, "By the time you read this, I will have reported to…begin serving my five-month sentence." The former chief executive of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, who vows to make a comeback, was found guilty in March of conspiracy, making false statements and obstruction of justice--all stemming from her suspicious sale of stock in biotech firm ImClone Systems Inc. on Dec. 27, 2001.
Etheridge diagnosed with cancer
Rocker Melissa Etheridge has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has canceled upcoming tour dates to undergo treatment, The Associated Press reports. Etheridge, 43, will undergo surgery and her doctor expects a "speedy and complete recovery," publicist Marcel Pariseau said in a statement, after detecting the cancer early. "I am fortunate to be under a wonderful doctor's care and thankful that this was caught early," Etheridge said in the statement. "I am looking forward to a quick and full recovery."
Kidman causes a stir at Paris fashion show
Chaos erupted on the Paris catwalk on Friday as Nicole Kidman arrived to launch her promotional campaign for Chanel's legendary No 5 perfume, AP reports. Kidman was there to shoot a two-minute film, directed by her good friend Baz Luhrmann, in which she plays an actress who flees photographers at a movie premiere and ends up romancing a handsome stranger, played by Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro. Designer Karl Lagerfeld created a red-carpeted runway for Friday's show to mimic the campaign, and life promptly imitated art as photographers swarmed in to get a shot of Kidman. "I thought he made it really fun and vibrant," Kidman said backstage after the show. Chanel is hoping the advertising blitz will help it win the battle for the all-important Christmas perfume market.
Thornton gets star on Walk of Fame
Oscar-winner Billy Bob Thornton got his very own star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame Thursday, AP reports, as well as a special message from ex-wife Angelina Jolie in a full-page Variety ad: "Billy, I love your brilliant mind…Congratulations! With love and respect always, Angie." Joked Thornton to AP Television News: "You know, it's funny….I've only met Angie Dickinson once." But the 49-year-old actor was modest about the honor. "You can try to be humble about this kind of thing and say, 'Oh well, it's fine or whatever,'" Thornton told the crowd. "But the fact of the matter is it's a huge honor and I appreciate it so much."
Incubus singer detained at NY airport
Brandon Boyd, the lead singer of the rock band Incubus, was arrested Wednesday at LaGuardia Airport after carrying a switchblade in his bag, AP reports. Boyd, who was on his way to a concert gig in North Carolina, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon but was able to continue his travels in time for the concert, a spokeswoman for the band's label, Epic Records, told AP. Boyd admitted he accidentally left the knife in his bag and called the incident "my bad," spokeswoman Lois Najarian said. "I totally forgot it was at the bottom of my bag, and when the security person pulled it out, I thought, 'Oh, no,'" Boyd said in a statement Thursday.
October 01, 2004 7:53am EST
Martha Stewart heads to "Camp Cupcake"
If she has to serve time, she might as well do it at a prison where typical inmates cook, serve food and do laundry. Martha Stewart will serve her five-month jail sentence for lying about a suspicious stock sale at a minimum-security prison in W. Va., Alderson prison, locally known as "Camp Cupcake," where she is to report by 2 p.m. (EDT) on Oct 8., Reuters reports. The homemaking maven had said she wanted to serve her jail term at Danbury, Conn., or Coleman, Fla., but the U.S. Bureau of Prisons sent her to Alderson because she would receive less media attention there when reporting for the sentence. The facility, located about 200 miles south of Pittsburgh, has no gates or fences and houses more than 1,000 inmates, mostly drug offenders, who sleep in bunk beds in dormitory-style rooms. Past inmates of note have included two women who attempted to kill President Ford, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme of Manson Family infamy and Sara Jane Moore, and Billie Holliday (on a drug charge). Speaking at a news conference earlier this month, Stewart said she is looking forward to getting this behind her and to vigorously pursue her appeal. After her release, Stewart will still have to serve five months of house arrest at her home in suburban Bedford, N.Y., and submit a complete a written report to her probation officer within the first five days of every month. Stewart was found guilty in March of conspiracy, making false statements and obstruction of agency proceedings stemming from her suspicious sale of stock in biotech company ImClone Systems Inc. on Dec. 27, 2001.
Miramax preparing to distribute Moore's Sicko
Miramax is preparing to finance and distribute Michael Moore's upcoming documentary Sicko, which takes aim at the American healthcare system, Variety reports. Moore's last documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 was purchased by Miramax chiefs Bob and Harvey Weinstein's ad hoc Fellowship Adventure Group and released in association with Lions Gate Films and IFC Films after Disney refused to handle the pic. Although the doc is not necessarily as inflammatory as the politically charged Fahrenheit 9/11, it's unclear what Disney's stance on the project is. According to Variety, a stalemate over Sicko could exacerbate the already fragile relationship between Disney CEO Michael Eisner and the Weinsteins.
Lawsuit against DiCaprio dismissed
A judge Wednesday threw out a lawsuit against Leonardo DiCaprio and two other men for their alleged roles in a street fight over Showgirls actress Elizabeth Berkley, the AP reports. DiCaprio, 29, and three others were sued for $45 million by Roger Wilson, 44, who claimed the Titanic star encouraged his friends to attack him outside a Manhattan restaurant on May 4, 1998. Wilson, an actor who appeared in two of the Porky's movies and was dating Berkley at the time, approached DiCaprio and his friends about calling Berkley repeatedly. Wilson's suit claimed DiCaprio aided and abetted the assault by shouting, "go out there and kick his (expletive)" to his friends. DiCaprio's friend Todd Healy admitted to hitting Wilson, claiming it was in self-defense when he thought he saw him reaching for something, possibly a weapon. But Judge Paula Omansky dismissed the action against DiCaprio because Healy never heard the alleged remark, and therefore could not have been incited by it. Omansky, however, said the lawsuit could proceed against Healy.
CBS tops premiere week
In a week during which CBS was fined $550,000 for Janet Jackson's infamous Super Bowl stunt and its news division had to apologize for shoddy reporting, at least the network lead in the ratings. AP reports that during the first official week of the new television season, Sept. 20-26, CBS averaged 13.6 million viewers followed by NBC (10.6 million); ABC (10 million); Fox (5.3 million); the WB (4.2 million); UPN (3.1 million). The top 10 shows were: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS; CSI: Miami, CBS; Without a Trace, CBS; ER, NBC; CSI: NY, CBS; Survivor: Vanuatu, CBS; Law & Order special, NBC; NFL Monday Night Football: Minnesota at Philadelphia, ABC; Lost, ABC; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS.
Franken challenges O'Reilly to a bowling match
On his radio show Wednesday, satirist-commentator Al Franken challenged Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly to a "friendly" bowling match. The proposed face-off would be a part of The Great American Bowl-Off, an Oct. 7 event being organized by the Web site Meetup.com in bowling centers around the country designed to give political partisans a break from campaigning. "If Kerry and Bush supporters can put aside their differences for a day to compete, well then, so can Bill O'Reilly and I," Franken said. But a spokesman for Fox News Channel told AP O'Reilly "is not going to respond to anything Al Franken says."
Star-studded concert tribute held for Ray Charles
Ray Charles, who died June 10 of liver disease, was honored in Los Angeles with a tribute concert that praised the late singer's life and his ability to transcend race and musical genres, AP reports. "Make no mistake about it, there will be no pity party," said music producer Quincy Jones, who met Charles when the two were teens. Jones told the packed audience at the Beverly Hills Hotel Wednesday night that Charles "lived more lives than any 900 of you. In his last days, he told me, 'Man, I've already lived it all.'" Performers included Stevie Wonder, country singer Travis Tritt, former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald, and R&B artists James Ingram and Patti Austin, who sang Charles' hits. The event, hosted by Bill Cosby, raised money for the $15 million Morehouse College Center for the Arts in Atlanta. Charles gave the black liberal arts college $2 million to help fund the complex, which will contain a performance space in his name.
Famed NY radio personality dies
Scott Muni, one of the legendary voices of New York radio and who was an AM and FM disc-jockey for nearly 50 years in the country's biggest radio market, died at the age of 74 Tuesday in Los Angeles, Reuters reports. The cause of death was not immediately known
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.