Actor Adrien Brody jumped at the chance to portray Harry Houdini onscreen because he was fascinated by the legendary illusionist as a child and wannabe magician.
The King Kong star takes on the title role in upcoming miniseries Houdini and reveals the Hungarian immigrant and famed performer, who was known for his sensational escape acts in the early-1900s, provided "a profound level" of inspiration for him during his youth.
Brody tells U.S. breakfast show Today, "What he symbolises, still, resonated with me as a boy... "He is the epitome of the American dream. He is someone who has not only escaped the confines of the physical shackles, but the shackles that keep down the impoverished people. He was an Eastern-European immigrant... "He overcame all these things and he escaped that and he represented that to people, that it's possible, and that's a very heroic thing..."
At the end of the interview segment, Brody showed off his own magic skills by breaking a pencil in half with a folded dollar bill. The actor admitted he hadn't performed the trick in 30 years, but he succeeded on his third attempt, leaving Today co-host Tamron Hall stunned.
Rocker Pete Way has urged all men over 50 to get their prostate checked after winning his battle with cancer. The UFO founder was recently given a clean bill of health by doctors, and now he's determined to encourage other men not to wait until its too late to go for a test.
He tells Classic Rock Magazine, "I thought the blood in my pee must have been linked to the drugs I had taken down the years. When they said I had cancer I thought I was going to die.
"I had symptoms, because some people don’t, and then it can be too late to treat. All men over 50 should go and get tested - it’s a simple procedure and it could save your life."
Way underwent radiotherapy and admits the cancer sufferers he met on the way to recovery put his years of drug abuse into perspective.
He adds, "I’m ashamed when I think of the things I did, testing every drug you can imagine... and I’ll never be able to listen to an addict again tell me how hard it is to stop using. I’d say, 'You’re f**king mad! Just come down to the cancer club to put it all into perspective'."
Rapper Nas was shocked to discover his ancestors were sold as slaves in 1859 during his appearance on a genealogy TV show. The I Can hitmaker is the first rapper to trace his family history on U.S. series Finding Your Roots, and he was overwhelmed with emotion when he was presented with documents showing his relatives' tragic past.
Now he is considering tracking down descendents of those who 'owned' his ancestors to demand they hand over some of the fortune they made from slavery.
Speaking during the Television Critics Association press tour, he explains, "First I was enraged when I looked at the bill of sale. I was like, that guy that owned property owes me some cash. My people made him really wealthy, so maybe I should find his family and talk."
The rapper adds, "Now I'm on a mission to find out more."
The 10-part TV series will also feature stars including Ben Affleck, Jessica Alba, Tina Fey and Stephen King.
Walt Disney Pictures/Marvel
San Diego Comic-Con is nerd culture's second Christmas, and every year the annual ode to all things geek gets bigger and better, with film studios jostling each other for the biggest moment of the weekend. This year, the con's legendary Hall H will likely be the home of some game-changing reveals, dizzying sizzle reels, and exclusive trailers that may just be worth the dozen or so hours of waiting on line to get in. Here's a look at what we're expecting from the big film studio panels at Comic-Con:
Jupiter Ascending: The Wachowskis' latest, Jupiter Ascending, was supposed to make landfall this summer but was delayed just a few weeks away from its expected release date and sent to February — which is basically Hollywood's graveyard for lackluster films. This year's con has to be all about assuaging fears and ensuring fans that the film isn't a complete disaster. Showing a lengthy, eye-popping sequence from the film would be a great way to keep expectant fans at ease.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: As it turns the bend toward the final film in the franchise, The Hobbit series is pretty much in cruise control. We know what to expect from Peter Jackson's last hurrah in the Tolkien-verse but flames can still be fanned. We're hoping for some new footage for the upcoming film and more, since Jackson will be in attendance.
Mad Max: Fury Road: We've seen some dusty set photos from this post-apocalyptic epic, and the cast looks appropriately dirty and world weary, but what we really want to see is some footage. Since the film is set to release next May, a trailer of some sort is surely imminent.
Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice: Curiously absent from the list of films showing at the Warner Bros. panel, Dawn of Justice is the biggest question mark of the con. Can Warner Bros. really walk into Hall H without a bit of Batman up their sleeves? We're gonna go with no. We're betting the studio is saving something huge for a giant payload of hype to end their conference with. If not, then Marvel has already won Comic-Con - if you believe in the notion of winning these sorts of things. Considering we've already seen glimpses of Affleck kitted out in the Bat Suit and the new Bat Mobile, we're gonna need something pretty cool.
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Marvel's Avengers sequel is bar-none the biggest film at the con, and since the film has been shooting for months at this point, and the cast is descending on San Diego for the event, there's definitely going to be something big showing. If not, expect San Diego to be scorched to the earth in the ensuing fan rage.
Ant-Man: After losing longtime director Edgar Wright and a very worrying scramble to find a suitable replacement, Ant-Man, formerly Marvel's most promising film, is looking worse for wear. Some fans even swore off the film entirely the second Wright was jettisoned from the project. Some serious damage control is on the bill this year. The studio needs to show something tangible, like a costume or some early footage, to get the hype machine rolling again.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Since Guardians is so close to release, some Hall H faithful are expecting a screening of the film. We're doubtful that Marvel will preview the entire movie, but we are expecting to see a lengthy preview of the film. Perhaps something like the 17 minutes of the finished film shown to journalists earlier this month.
Everything Else: Sure, Marvel is king of the mountain now, but keeping that title means keeping everyone happy in the near and distant future. Marvel should add a couple more pin-drops to their map of Phase 3, and announce some anticipated films like Black Panther and Captain Marvel, but also dish about upcoming projects like Thor 3 and Doctor Strange.
20th Century Fox
X-Men: Apocalypse: Since Days of Future Past just dropped earlier this summer, we're not expecting a whole lot on the X-Men side of things, but the studio would be remiss if they didn't at least hint at something X-Men related, especially given the great post-credit sequence at the end of the last film.Fantastic Four: With its oddball casting, Fantastic Four might be the most heavily scrutinized superhero film to appear at the con. Since shooting has already begun, Fox needs to prove to fans that they know what they're doing. Some test footage from the project would be great.
Everything Else: Everyone's making huge, interconnected franchises these days, and we wonder if Fox will put it's own hat in the ring. Even though their list of properties is pretty scant, the promise of a sprawling blockbuster universe might be too appealing to resist. Can there be a X-Men/Fantastic Four meet-up? Stranger things have happened. Otherwise, also expect additional news and clips from Let's Be Cops, The Maze Runner, The Book of Life, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and hopefully, a first trailer for Hitman: Agent 47.
ParamountTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The film is basically out at this point, so there really isn't much to do besides add some last minute fuel to the hype machine. The film does have its share of detractors due to Michael Bay's involvement and a mixed reaction to the new turtle designs. An early screening to Comic-Con attendees might win the film some brownie points with fans.
Interstellar: This is one instance where less is most certainly more. Christopher Nolan's mysterious space adventure is probably the year's biggest question mark, and that's the way things should be. Universal should keep its cards close to its vest and let the enigmatic nature of the project be its own marketing tool. The Nolan pedigree will likely brig in a big audience. A new trailer would be fine, but lets keep the plot points to a minimum.
Moviemaker Ron Howard, Carole King and Marlee Matlin have led the early tributes to TV and film veteran James Garner, who passed away on Saturday (19Jul14), aged 86. The Rockford Files star died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles on Saturday evening (19Jul14), and celebrities have flooded Twitter.com with their last respects.
Howard recalled the actor's role in 1966 movie Grand Prix, noting, "RIP James Garner. Admired by all who knew him. When starring in Grand Prix the people around F1 (Formula One) said he had the talent to be a pro driver," while singer/songwriter King remembered working with Garner on the set of Murphy's Romance, adding, "He was one of the nicest people".
Matlin tweets, "Now sad to read my dear friend & costar James Garner passed. RIP sweet Jim Rockford," and Forrest Gump star Gary Sinise, writes, "R.I.P James Garner. Such a lovely man I had the pleasure of working him in 1989 in My Name Is Bill W with James Woods", while Kaley Cuoco - Garner's TV granddaughter in 8 Simple Rules - adds, "I say this with a heavy broken heart. Was an honor working beside u receiving ur bear hugs every day. (love) u Grampa Jim (sic)."
Other tributes have come from singer LeAnn Rimes, Alan Cumming, Stephen Fry, former child star Haley Joel Osment, and Sally Field, who writes, "My heart just broke. There are few people on this planet I have adored as much as Jimmy Garner. I cherish every moment I spent with him and relive them over and over in my head. He was a diamond." Field starred alongside Garner in Murphy's Romance, which earned the actor an Oscar nomination.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
Whether they're battling for survival, the planet, or just the God-given right to boogie down at the local country club, man and nature have always been at each others throats at the movies. Across the cinematic landscape, a great many battles have been waged between humans and animals, and as viewers, our sympathies often shift between the species. With Dawn of the Planet of the Apes hitting theaters tomorrow, here are our favorite man versus animal films, and who we side with in each expedition.
The GreyWhat's it about? After crash-landing in the Alaskan wilderness, a group of men must survive the elements and a pack of feral wolves.What are the humans fighting for? Surviving 'til the end credits.What are the animals fighting for? Tasty chunks of Liam Neeson.Who do we root for? Once Neeson strapped those tiny booze bottles to his knuckles, we were firmly on team Liam.
The BirdsWhat's it about? Swarms of birds begin attacking a sleepy California town.What are the humans fighting for? Their safety, clean cars.What are the animals fighting for? It's never explained, but we're guessing tastier bread crumbs.Who do we root for? The birds... hey, it's a Hitchcock movie, so we just root for mayhem.
Once Upon a Forest What's it about? Three young forest animals try to save a friend, who is wounded by chlorine gas from a human truck accident. What are the humans fighting for? Nothing in particular. What are the animals fighting for? Survival, their friend, their home. Who do we root for? Since the humans accidentally orphan a tiny woodland creature, it's obvious we're rooting for the animals.
CaddyshackWhat's it about? Bill Murray tries to kill a pesky gopher terrorizing Bushwood Country Club.What are the humans fighting for? The golf course, their sanity.What is the animal fighting for? The gopher just wants to cause as much chaos as possible and dance like crazy.Who do we root for? Definitely the gopher. He's all right. Don't gotta worry 'bout him.
How to Train Your DragonWhat's it about? On the Island of Berk, a young boy befriends a dragon in the midst of a human/dragon feud.What are the humans fighting for? Their safety and their livestock.What are the animals are fighting for? Sheep. Freedom. Mostly sheep.Who do we root for? The dragons, obviously. Vikings are cool, but... c'mon. Dragons.
JawsWhat's it about?: Three men try to take down a gigantic shark that's been terrorizing a beach town.What are the humans are fighting for? Survival, pride, and shark teeth to sell to tourists.What is the animal is fighting for? The right to eat silly beach-goers.Who do we root for? After all that male bonding, how could we not root for Richard Dreyfuss and co?
King Kong What's it about?: A mythical gigantic ape is captured and forced to move to New York City. What are the humans are fighting for?: Money, fame, a dangerous circus exhibit that will totally never backfire.What is the animal fighting for? Freedom, his human woman, a chance to see that Empire State Building that everyone's been talking about. Who do we root for? King Kong, because no one should be forced to live in Midtown.
Rise of the Planet of the ApesWhat's it about? James Franco starts humanity down the slippery slope of extinction by making apes really smart.What are the humans fighting for?: Some for tyranny, some for survival.What are the animals fighting for?: Respect, dominance, way more bananas.Who we rooted for: The writing is on the wall. Let's embrace our ape overlords.
British rockers Elbow wanted to bring actor Benedict Cumberbatch onstage for a special appearance at Glastonbury festival last weekend (27-29Jul14) but the plan fell through. The band performed at the iconic U.K. music event on Friday (27Jun14), second on the bill to headliners Arcade Fire, and they were lining up a bizarre treat for revellers.
They wanted to bring Sherlock star Cumberbatch onstage to contribute to a heavy rock version of Destiny's Child track Independent Women, but the odd idea was dropped when the actor revealed he would not be available on the day.
Frontman Guy Garvey tells Mojo magazine, "(We wanted to do) a really heavy Deep Purple-style version of Destiny's Child's Independent Women... You know in the middle of the song, there's that list of everything that Beyonce bought and owned? We were going to have him ranting it in a kind of King Lear fashion."
The Who guitarist Pete Townshend warned Britain's former Prime Minister Tony Blair not to court friendships with celebrities ahead of his famous 'Cool Britannia' event in 1997. The U.K.'s current leader David Cameron mimicked Blair's stunt by hosting his own star-studded bash at the Foreign Office in London on Tuesday (01Jul14), welcoming guests including actress Helen Bonham Carter and Townshend's bandmate Roger Daltrey.
However, Townshend, who was not invited to Cameron's event, insists politicians should not seek approval from stars, and reveals he warned Blair against his party plans.
He tells Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, "My advice was: 'Don't let f**king Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher come and talk to you, because as soon as things go a little bit difficult - and as soon as they get their tax bill - they'll drop you like a stone.' Which is exactly what happened."
A Downing Street spokesperson said this week's (beg30Jun14) event, which was also attended by Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes among others, was held to mark the creative industry's contribution to the economy.
Actress Ruby Dee has died at the age of 91. The star passed away of natural causes on Wednesday (11Jun14) in New Rochelle, New York.
Dee began her career in the musical drama That Man of Mine and played American baseball player Jackie Robinson's wife in The Jackie Robinson Story.
Other notable film appearances for Dee included A Raisin in the Sun, Jungle Fever, Do the Right Thing and American Gangster, for which she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
For her many appearances on the small screen, the actress was lauded with several Emmy Awards nominations, including nods for 1979's Roots: The Next Generation, Little Bill and Decoration Day, for which she won the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie trophy.
Dee was also known for her stints in theatre plays including A Raisin in the Sun, Hamlet and King Lear.
Her other awards include Screen Actors Guild awards for Lifetime Achievement and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for American Gangster, and a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for With Ossie And Ruby: In This Life Together.
Paying tribute to Dee, Screen Actors Guild president Ken Howard says, "Ruby Dee was truly one of a kind. She was a woman who believed deeply in fairness, a conviction that motivated her lifelong efforts to advance civil rights.
"The acting community - and the world - is a poorer place for her loss."
Dee was also known for her activism, and, in 2005, she received the National Civil Rights Museum’s Lifetime Achievement Freedom award alongside her late husband, Ossie Davis.
Actress Lee Chamberlin has lost her fight with cancer at the age of 76. The star, who had been living in Paris, France, passed away on 25 May (14) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, while visiting her son Matthew.
Born Alverta La Pallo, Chamberlin rose to fame in 1971 as an original cast member of educational children's show The Electric Company, on which she co-starred with Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno and a young Morgan Freeman.
Chamberlin went on to work on the stage, appearing in a 1973 production of Shakespeare's King Lear in New York's Central Park, opposite James Earl Jones as the title character, and she also carved out a career in film, with credits in Sidney Poitier's 1970s movies Uptown Saturday Night and Let's Do It Again.
Her other roles included parts on TV comedy series Diff'rent Strokes, police drama Paris and U.S. soap opera All My Children, in which she played Pat Baxter from 1983 to 1995.