Famed Hollywood make-up artist Dick Smith has died at the age of 92. The Oscar winner worked on some of the most iconic films of the 1970s, including Taxi Driver, The Exorcist, The Deer Hunter, and The Stepford Wives, and he was also responsible for turning Marlon Brando into Mob boss Vito Corleone in The Godfather.
He scooped an Academy Award in 1985 for his work behind the scenes on Mozart biopic Amadeus, and was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2012 for his career achievements.
Born Richard Smith in 1922 in Larchmont, New York, Smith entered the TV industry upon leaving college, working at NBC for 14 years, where he pioneered the use of latex in painting on face make-up, now considered the standard technique for studio cosmetics.
He went on to become one of the most respected make-up artists in Tinseltown for his ability to make young actors appear decades older. He also wrote a book on movie cosmetics, titled Dick Smith's Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-up Handbook.
Smith, who earned the nickname 'The Godfather of Make-Up' during his career, died on Wednesday (30Jul14). The details of his passing had not been made public as WENN went to press.
British TV comedy writer Bob Larbey has died, aged 79. Larbey's agent has confirmed the writer passed away on Monday (31Mar14).
He was best known for co-writing classic 1970s comedy The Good Life with John Esmonde. The show starred Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal as a couple who abandon traditional city jobs and embrace a farming lifestyle in a London suburb.
School friends Esmonde and Larbey achieved their first success with sketches for The Dick Emery Show in 1963 and had their breakthrough in 1968 with sitcom Please, Sir!
They went on to co-write a number of British TV hits including Ever Decreasing Circles and Brush Strokes.
Away from his partnership with Esmonde, Larbey was also responsible for hit U.K. TV sitcom As Time Goes By.
Singer/songwriter Ray Kennedy has died, aged 67. A member of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand house band, the multi-instrumentalist hit the road as a touring members of groups led by Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Krupa, Little Richard and Otis Redding.
He hit it big in the mid-1960s after signing a deal with Atlantic Records as half of the duo Jon and Ray.
Kennedy and partner Jon Misland worked with producers like Phil Spector and Arif Mardin, but failed to release an album.
The singer went solo after working with Group Therapy on two late 1960s albums, and found success as a songwriter, working with the likes of the Beach Boys (Sail On, Sailor).
He also co-founded KGB with Barry Goldberg and Michael Bloomfield.
Kennedy spent the 1980s as a solo artist and session musician, contributing to the music for the 1988 Olympics and touring with Aerosmith and the Michael Schenker Group.
He also worked with Englebert Humperdinck, Wayne Newton and Mick Fleetwood - he co-wrote These Strange Times for Fleetwood Mac.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus' fake smoking stunt at Sunday's (12Jan14) Golden Globes has sparked outrage among several U.S. senators, who have demanded organisers ensure a similar skit is not televised again. The funnywoman, who was nominated for two acting prizes at the ceremony, was part of hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's opening monologue, appearing onscreen wearing sunglasses and smoking an electronic cigarette.
The gag drew huge laughs from the star-studded crowd, but fell flat with Democrat senators Dick Durbin, Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown and Edward Markey, who insist the skit glamorised the use of electronic cigarettes.
The four politicians have written an open letter to officials at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organisation behind the Golden Globes, and NBC, the TV network which broadcast the show, requesting they refrain from including electronic cigarettes in broadcasts.
The letter reads, "The Golden Globes celebrates entertainers who are an influence on young fans. We ask the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and NBC Universal to take actions to ensure that future broadcasts of the Golden Globes do not intentionally feature images of e-cigarettes.
"Such action would help to avoid the glamorisation of smoking and protect the health of young fans."
Leonardo DiCaprio was also spotted inhaling nicotine-laced vapour from an electronic cigarette at his table during the prizegiving at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
You expect a bit of schmaltz from a movie about the making of Mary Poppins. But schmaltz doesn't entail a sentiment lathered so thickly that it's feels like an anti-depressant commercial, or material so broad that it's insulting to believe that audiences above the age of five can relate to the emotionality onscreen. Saving Mr. Banks takes for granted that its viewers are fans of traditional Disney, seeming to confuse Disney fans for Disney characters, and insinuating that we bear the intellectual sophistication thereof.
The real victim, of course, is the character of P.L. Travers (Emma Roberts, charming as she can be with this material), who incurs a fraction of a storyline about overcoming (or learning to live with?) her latent childhood traumas. As a young girl in Australia (as we learn in intermittent flashbacks — by and large the dullest part of the movie, but such a hefty piece of it), young Travers adored her merry, whimsical alcoholic father (Colin Farrell, playing a character that feels as grounded in reality as Dick Van Dyke's penguin-trotting screever Bert), enchanting in his Neverland mannerisms while her chronically depressed mother watched the family crumble into squalor.
Forty-odd years later, the themes of Travers' childhood inform (sometimes directly, right down to presciently repeated phrases) her resistence to allow her novel Mary Poppins to take form as a Disney movie. In the absence of a reason for why she might have a sudden change of heart about a feeling to which she has apparently held so strongly for two decades, Travers opts to fly out to California to meet Walt Disney (Tom Hanks, wading through the script without any of the energy we know he has in his back pocket) and discuss the adaptation process.
When it's not insisting upon clunky "melting the ice queen" devices — like nuzzling Travers up to an oversized stuffed Mickey Mouse to show that, hey, she's starting to like this place! — the stubborn author's time in the Disney writer's room is the best part of the movie. Working with (or against) an increasingly agitated creative team made up of Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman, and B.J. Novak, Travers protests minor details about setting and character, driving her colleagues mad in the process. It is to the credit of the comic talents of Whitford and Schwartzman (who play reserved agitation well beside Novak's outright hostility — he's doing mid-series Ryan in this movie, FYI) that these scenes offer a scoop of charm. But Travers' gradual defrosting poses a consistent problem, as it is experienced over the slow reveal of her disjointed backstories in a fashion that suggests the two are connected... but we have no reason to believe that they are.
The implications of the characters' stories — depression, child abuse, alcoholism, handicaps, and PTSD — are big, and worthy of monumental material. But the characters are so thin that the assignment of such issues to them does a disservice to the emotionality and pain inherent therein. A good story might have been found in the making of Mary Poppins, and in the life and work of P.L. Travers. Unfortunately, Saving Mr. Banks is too compelled to turn that arc into a Disney cartoon. And much like Travers herself, we simply cannot abide that.
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Veteran musician Van Dyke Parks has risked causing outrage by insisting controversial world leaders Richard Nixon and Margaret Thatcher should have died sooner. The songwriter/producer, who is best known for his groundbreaking work with Beach Boys star Brian Wilson in the 1960s, has previously told how he was devastated by the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
He is adamant Kennedy was a force for good in the world and insists shamed President Nixon - who was run out of office in the wake of the Watergate scandal - and former British Prime Minister Thatcher encouraged materialist thinking.
However, Parks has risked upsetting friends, family, and supporters of the political heavyweights by revealing he wishes they had not lived so long.
He tells NME magazine, "I mark this event (the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death) with the knowledge that we would live in a better world if the Kennedys had not been assassinated. It would be a more kindly world. It would be a less materialistic world. It would be a world not so riddled with material girls and greed. There would not be this celebration, this eroticism of wealth, had the Kennedys lived.
"So... I regret that John Kennedy was assassinated... I believe that a lot of people can die late in life and still die prematurely. A lot of people don't die soon enough - I would put in those ranks Dick Nixon (sic) and Margaret Thatcher."
Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs/Facebook
Matthew Sweet and Bangles singer/guitarist Susanna Hoffs may have made their way to mainstream success in the '80s and '90s, but as their third duo album of covers makes clear, a pure power-pop heart still beats inside both of them. Under the Covers Vol. 3 is filled with Hoffs and Sweet's versions of tunes from the '80s alt-pop realm, reaching into everything from The English Beat's "Save It For Later" to the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now," but two of the best tunes on the album are among the least widely known: the surging, mysterious-sounding "The Bulrushes" by The Bongos, and the poignantly poptastic "Big Brown Eyes" by The dB's.
Both bands became known as spearheads of the Hoboken scene of the early '80s, becoming cult heroes and college-radio mainstays, but neither made it out of the '80s alive. The new millennium tells a different story, though: The dB's released the excellent reunion album Falling Off the Sky in 2012, and the band's two singer/songwriters, Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey, are getting set for December dates performing their classic 1991 duo album, Mavericks. Holsapple, who wrote and sang "Big Brown Eyes," says, "I am flattered and extremely grateful that Susanna and Matthew would even consider recording one of my songs for their album. Their version is just splendid. Now I have something cool to recommend to people for stocking stuffers this year!"
The Bongos, who have been playing some reunion shows of their own recently, have finally unleashed their long-shelved third album, Phantom Train, recorded in '86 but never released until this year. "'The Bulrushes' was one of the first songs I wrote for The Bongos," recalls frontman Richard Barone. "The lyrics were inspired equally by a Kabbalistic Tree of Life diagram hanging on our apartment wall in Hoboken and a copy of my first grade primer Fun With Dick and Jane that I had lying around. I had been listening to The Seeds and started strumming a major/minor two-chord progression, kinda combining it with a dance beat like we were hearing in the clubs. I was so excited to hear the band play it when we got together the next day, and I've been playing it ever since." Of the new version, Barone remarks, "Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs have a rare gift of being able to grab a song and make it their own while capturing its true essence and spirit. That takes a lot of smarts and some awesome chops, of which they have both in spades. I am thrilled they included 'The Bulrushes' in their latest collection. It totally rocks and I love it!"
NBC Universal Media
Right now, it looks like another Law & Order vehicle may be on the rocks. It's Law & Order: SVU, the last of the venerable show and its spinoffs. The show's been on the air since 1999 and while the viewership numbers are still there for the most part...it's been on for nearly 15 years. Can it stay strong or is it on its last legs?
There's been a lot of turnover, with Chris Meloni first leaving and then B.D. Wong also left (but returned). Richard Belzer recently decided to leave as well. I'll definitely miss the wise-cracking Munch, though the door was left open for cameos. So it's left up to Mariska Hargitay and Ice-T, both originals, to hold down the fort as the regulars. It also seems like the two district attorney's just tag-team each other when it comes to their time on the show. I never got a good feel for that new cop, the one with the gambling problem, and there's only so far that Hargitay and Ice-T can carry the show.
When it comes to shows like this, even ones that remain somewhat fresh and topical by grabbing their plots from the headlines, there has to be an end. Unfortunately, this might be that times where the show is slouching towards the exit. It's not necessarily a bad thing - though I do wish it would be able to go out on its own terms. What would that be? Ice-T's character reveals that he's really the real Ice-T deep undercover and he wants to resurrect Body Count and do a real-life 'Cop Killer'? (If you don't get that reference, Google it - I think I just aged myself by even mentioning it.)
These shows have all weathered plenty of cast turnover, and with Dick Wolf's streak of producing shows with remarkable longevity, it's never a good idea to count these shows out until the last light goes off on the set and the doors are locked. I tell you...when it happens, I'm going to miss hearing the "In the criminal justice system..." intro. Then an era will have truly ended. Then we wait and see what Wolf brings us next.
Time & Life Pictures
After taking on Nixon, JFK, George W. Bush, and September 11th, filmmaker Oliver Stone, along with potential star Jamie Foxx, might be DreamWorks' choice to bring Martin Luther King Jr.'s life to the screen, as reported by The Playlist. So far, it's not clear exactly how much or what part of King's life DreamWorks is looking to focus on, but Stone is well known for his long, ambling biopics, particularly of political figures.
Stone doesn't shy away from tough topics. If he's at the helm, he's going to want to tackle some of the more complex issues and potentially make large assumptions and leaps to serve his narrative. The man was able to make a film with some pathos for then-current president Bush, so this certainly won't be a slam piece on one of the great American icons and heroes. But the MLK estate has been very tough on films looking to portray the more sordid aspects of King's story, like his alleged infidelity. And with members of the King family working with DreamWorks and against rival projects (including ones from Paul Greengrass and Lee Daniels) it suggests that this may be a more sanitized vision then Stone is used to. Not only would Stone likely rankle at such demands, but erasing the complexity from MLK makes the whole film kind of pointless. Can we not handle a vision of King that paints him as something other than a martyr?
We remember Spike Lee's Malcolm X as a great film because Lee was able to work with Alex Healy/Malcom X's fantastic book, which was open about the various vices in the activist's past. It didn't hurt that the movie was blessed with Denzel Washington's amazing performance.
Now, Jamie Foxx doesn't really resemble King, but his quiet dignity mixed with deep, deep, anger and pain in last year's Django Unchained was a level of subtlety he hasn't shown since his Oscar-winning turn in Ray back in 2005. But after seeing Foxx's goofy side this summer in White House Down, his striking dissimilarities from King could really derail this film, and it doesn't really make sense why he's the top choice. But clearly DreamWorks is looking for a star, and most of the other bona fide black stars are either too old to play the 39-year-old King, have already played another distinct historical figure, or both.
What's frustrating is that there is so much room for more interpretations of King's life. Richard Nixon, for example, was not only the subject of one of Stone's lengthy films, but also has appeared in documentaries, other narratives, dramas, onstage (in the superb Frost/Nixon, which, by the way, was also turned into an Oscar nominated film), in comedies like Dick, graphic novels, and even an opera. He's been portrayed as a genius, an idiot, a crook, a coward, a fool, a hero, an opportunist, a good president, bad president, good person, and bad person. There's a wealth of creative material all based around or involving his life. Martin Luther King Jr. is a figure as large as Nixon, and like all people, was just as complex, but we rarely get to see a true representation of what that might have been like.
In short, while it's all well and good that filmmakers are interested in bringing MLK to the screen, it might not be possible for a divisive director like Stone and a potentially miscast star like Foxx to make this film a worthy one. And if it is regarded poorly, that might lead his family to become even more protective of his amazing story.
Not to mention, Drunk History did it first.
Hollywood, always at a loss to keep churning out original entertainment often likes to take characters from other shows and give them their own vehicle. Some are successful... but others, you find youself asking - what if they took THIS character and gave them a spin-off instead?
After Homicide ended its run, John Munch got to mosey his way from Baltimore to New York to join Law & Order: SVU. Richard Belzer's a fine actor, but Andre Braugher's Pembleton was the backbone of Homicide. Imagine him and Ice-T on the same set?
Laura Winslow/Family Matters
This would have been a reward for Winslow's putting up with Steve Urkel. Urkel could have been on the first episode of the new show...and had a bank safe dropped on his head. Then she could have gone on dates with real interesting people that didn't involve a nerd stepping dangerously close to the line of stalking.
Dylan McKay/Beverly Hills, 90210
Brandon Walsh: too earnest. Kelly Taylor: too annoying. David Silver: Too generic '90s. Steve Sanders: Too many shiny teeth. Donna Martin: Ha ha ha. No. So Dylan, the world-weary fellow would have been perfect for his own show.
Shawn Hunter/Boy Meets World
There's a Girl Meets World spin-off/reboot happening, but Hunter should have had his own show after Boy Meets World. Rider Strong would have had to stop looking constipated when he was supposed to be feeling moody though. He could have ditched his half-brother Jack, but Eric Matthews would need to make appearances just to keep the comedy level high.
Joey Tribbiani got the spin-off, but the witty Bing would have been the better choice. Could it BE any more obvious? Monica would have had to go, but Matthew Perry could carry the show. Perhaps this would have halted Perry's horrible post-Friends freefall.
What, you thought I would suggest Niles Crane, which would mean another show featuring a stuffy psychiatrist? They could have had Martin go to Boston to get away from everyone and find a new aide for him. Ted Danson could take a break from CSI and reprised Sam Malone.
Dr. Dick Solomon/3rd Rock From The Sun
Any show with just John Lithgow would have been awesome and I know I don't risk incurring the wrath of the Big Giant Head by saying this. Lithgow has the face and personality to carry his own just as Solomon. He coud have a fake Inception dream scene with Joseph Gordon-Leavitt.
Jazz/The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Jazz could barely act his way out of a paper bag sometimes, but it would have been fun to see how many different ways he could get thrown out of houses in his own show. I always had a soft spot for him and his doomed courtship of Hilary Banks.
Sophia Petrillo/Golden Girls
Let's forget that Golden Palace dreck, shall we? Sophia deserved better and she could have ruled her own nursing home. Out of the four "girls," she was the most feisty, funny and quotable of them all. Forget Shady Pines - Petrillo Manor would have been infinitely better.
10. Ricardo Tubbs/Miami Vice
Tubbs was the smoother of the two on Miami Vice. I'm talking the Philip Michael Thomas Tubbs here, not Jamie Foxx. Thomas danced circles around Foxx when it came to suaveness. Tubbs could have opened up an agency in Los Angeles - that OTHER place with extremely attractive women and high style.
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