It's been 52 years in the making, but Barbara Walters may be ready to retire. According to a report from Deadline, Walters — a venerable icon of media and inspiration for female journalists everywhere — may be on the heels of announcing her departure from the airwaves, with a date of May 2014 currently being bandied about. Hollywood.com has reached out to a rep for Walters for comment, but had not heard back at the time of publication.
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The loss of Walters on the small screen will no doubt be a big one, as hers has been a career long considered a gateway for females in television journalism. Her career began in 1962, when she joined the staff of The Today Show as a writer and segment producer of women's interest stories for the NBC morning news program. She later became the first female co-host a news program when she manned the desk at Today starting in 1974, before doing the same as a co-anchor in primetime on ABC Evening News in 1976. Walters also became the face of popular primetime newsmagazine 20/20 for 20 years. In 1997, Walters made her return to daytime as the creator and co-host of The View — to say nothing of all those years spent talking to the year's most fascinating people.
RELATED: Why Barbara Walters Thinks These People are More Fascinating Than You
But Walters' career is one littered with incredible achievements. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, has won multiple awards, including Emmy Awards, Lucy Awards, and a GLAAD Excellence in Media award. She was given the comedic nickname of "Baba Wawa" on Saturday Night Live by Gilda Radner — a satirization of the pronunciation of her name, as well as several lifetime achievement awards. To say nothing of the impact she's directly (or indirectly) had on numerous careers.
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Rumors about Walters’ retirement first began in December 2011, when rumors swirled that she told President Obama during an interview break that she was retiring the next year. And with several public health battles on record as of late — she recently had a large fall in DC, as well as a hospitalization for chicken pox earlier in the year — which only added fuel to the flames of retirement talk. If talk of Walters' retirement are confirmed, this would be the second blow to The View in recent weeks, as it was recently announced that the only remaining original panelist (besides Walters), Joy Behar would be leavivng this summer.
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[Photo Credit: Christopher Peterson/FilmMagic]
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It looks like Chris Traeger is literally... ready for anything. The Parks and Recreation star also known as Rob Lowe is reportedly in talks to play Liberace’s plastic surgeon in the film Behind The Candelabra, according to Deadline.
(Side note: The set design budget for this movie must be outrageous. Have you SEEN all of the many, shiny, glittery, gilded THINGS Liberace owned? Holy cats.)
For those unaware of the significance the role Liberace's plastic surgeon took in his life, let's school you in man's the weird and whimsical wiles. Liberace was so into himself that he made his lover/companion/limo driver/general plaything Scott Thorson get plastic surgery to look more like him. This included a nose job, the raising of his cheek bones, and a chin implant, all so Liberace could look at (and make out with) himself. To say nothing of Liberace's personal aesthetic enhancements. Yikes!
Steven Soderbergh is directing the film for HBO, which stars Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his aforementioned live-in lover. It is said the movie is to discuss the tempestuous hush-hush relationship between the two men. Dan Aykroyd and Debbie Reynolds are also starring in the flick. First Magic Mike, now this, Soderbergh? You're killing us, man.
We have reached out for comment, but have yet to hear back.
[Photo Credit: Getty]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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She's a hip-hoppin' be-boppin' mean ol' nanny who whips a mean stew and your butt for not doing your homework—and now she's back! Alas we don't speak of the Mrs. Doubtfire sequel but rather that of Big Momma a.k.a. FBI Agent Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence). Agent Warner has cut ties with the FBI at the behest of Sherry (Nia Long)—who as you no doubt recall is the granddaughter of the real Big Momma—since she's pregnant with Malcolm's baby. But wouldn't you know that he gets sucked back in after a former colleague is killed. Posing as Big Momma he's hired as a nanny to a suburban family the deadbeat dad of which is involved in the murder and a crime plot. She does it all—cooks cleans dances and even runs down bad guys but it's a race against time to stop the potential national security crisis. That is a race against the film's (mercifully) short running time. Although Lawrence's resume includes some of the dregs of comedy it's hard to argue that he is truly blessed when it comes to physical comedy and comedic timing. He continues both trends here this time without the help of the breakthrough actors of the past two years Paul Giamatti and Terrence Howard who yes both starred in the first Big Momma's House. That means Lawrence's urban mania is truly on its own and absurd and juvenile as the film may be even film snobs can't hold back a few laughs at his Big Momma outlandishness. Longreturns for no more than a select few scenes and to provide a minor conflict in the story. The notable newcomer is CSI's Emily Procter as the sterile mother who hires Big Momma. She does a serviceable job as a suburban Petite Momma. Might she be the next Giamatti or Howard to bolt to bigger and better things in time for the next sequel? No.
Big Momma's House 2 is right up director John Whitesell's alley. He's the guy behind such misses—though not necessarily financially—as Malibu's Most Wanted and See Spot Run and he's right at home here. Whitesell doesn't hold back in (literally and figuratively) pulling the robe off Big Momma but he clearly knows that nothing is to interrupt Lawrence's antics not even the thin story line. Aside from that he knows quite well how to execute thinly veiled rip-offs of the aforementioned Mrs. Doubtfire as well as countless other hidden-motive comedies (i.e. Kindergarten Cop Houseguest et al). Because while the main guise is the Big Momma fat suit Whitesell parades the film about as a feel-good/family flick.
Based on Chris Van Allsburg's enchanting award winning children's book the story begins on a snowy Christmas Eve where a doubting young boy lies in his bed waiting to hear the sound he doesn't know if he believes in anymore: the tinkle of Santa's sleigh bells. What he hears instead however is the thunderous roar of an approaching train where no train should be: it's the Polar Express. Rushing outside in only a robe and slippers the incredulous boy meets the train's conductor who urges him to come onboard. Suddenly the boy finds himself embarking on an extraordinary journey to the North Pole with a number of other children--including a girl who has the tools to be a good leader but lacks confidence; a know-it-all boy who lacks humility; and a lonely boy who just needs to have a little faith in other people to make his dreams come true. Together the children discover that the wonder of Christmas never fades for those who believe. As the conductor wisely advises "It doesn't matter where the train is going. What matters is deciding to get on." Gives ya goose bumps doesn't it?
Talk about a vanity project for Tom Hanks. He portrays several of the characters in the film--the conductor the hobo who mysteriously appears and disappears on the Polar Express the boy's father. Wait isn't that Hanks playing Santa Claus as well? But if anyone can pull off some cheesy dialogue about the spirit of Christmas this Oscar-winning actor can. Interestingly the film also incorporates adults to play the children (none of the characters have names actually) with Hanks as the Hero Boy; Hanks' Bosom Buddies pal Peter Scolari as the Lonely Boy; The Matrix Revolutions Nona Gaye as the Hero Girl; and veteran voice actor Eddie Deezen as the Know-It-All Boy. Everyone does a good job but trying to make CGI-created people seem real is a difficult undertaking. With
The Polar Express director Robert Zemeckis has created an entirely new way to do computer animation called "performance capture." "[It's a process that] offers a vivid rendering of the Van Allsburg world while infusing a sense of heightened realism into the performances. It's like putting the soul of a live person into a virtual character " visual effects wizard and longtime Zemeckis collaborator Ken Ralston explains. Oh is that all? Problem is no matter how hard they try it doesn't work--not completely. Similar to flaws in the 2001 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within virtual characters just can't convey human emotion as well as real-life actors plain and simple. And with a touching story like Polar Express that real-life connection is missed at times.
Of course like the images in the book it's still an exceptionally beautiful film to watch. Zemeckis enjoys being a filmmaking innovator. He charmed audiences with a lively blend of live action and manic animation in the 1988 classic action comedy Who Framed
Roger Rabbit? and then wowed them with the 1994 Oscar-winning Forrest Gump blending authentic archival footage of historic figures with the actors. Now with The Polar Express it's this performance capture which gives Zemeckis unlimited freedom in creating the world he wants. And boy does he make use of it. True the story is a classic but the director knows he has to make The Polar Express exciting for the tykes-- simply riding around in a train to North Pole without any thrills certainly wouldn't be enough for the ADD world we live in. To accomplish this the film is padded with exhilarating scenes such as the train going on a giant roller coaster ride through the mountains and across frozen lakes (too bad Warner Bros. doesn't have a theme park) and the boy's race across the top of the snowy Polar Express. Even the North Pole is a booming magical Mecca filled with some pretty boisterous (and weird looking) elves who like to send Santa off in style Christmas Eve--watch out for Aerosmith's Steven Tyler making a cameo as a jammin' elf. Ho-ho-ho!
Scooby and the gang at Mystery Inc.--Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.) Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) Velma (Linda Cardellini) and Shaggy (Matthew Lillard)--are at the top of their game and just about everyone in Coolsville loves them. Even the Coolsonian Museum is honoring them with an exhibit--a costumed display of Mystery Inc.'s former foes such as The Pterodactyl Ghost The Black Knight Ghost and The 10 000 Volt Ghost. Yet at the museum's gala opening the team's stellar reputation is put in serious jeopardy when said monsters come alive re-created by a masked villain who vows to bring Mystery Inc. down. Under pressure from relentless reporter Heather Jasper-Howe (Alicia Silverstone) the gang launches an investigation into the monster outbreak but as the mystery deepens Mystery Inc.'s members end up questioning their roles within the organization. Can macho leader Fred and image-conscious Daphne look past the superficial and find the identity of the Evil Masked Figure? Will brainy Velma let her feelings for Coolsonian Museum curator Patrick Wisely (Seth Green) blossom even though he is a key suspect? And finally can Shaggy and Scooby stop cowering--and eating--long enough to prove they can be detectives? These are tough times for the gang but they've got to pull it together so they can solve the mystery and save the day.
Even though it seems a little ridiculous that Scooby-Doo 2's fleshed-out cartoon characters would try to dig deep to find answers within the returning actors continue to have fun exploring their alter-Scooby-egos. Prinze's Fred has a hipper haircut this time (the original matted blond 'do had to go) and isn't quite the braggart he once was. He is still unquestionably the "face" of the group until he is made to look foolish by the ruthless Heather played with relish by Silverstone who shines in the bad-girl role. Gellar has definitely dropped Daphne's "damsel-in-distress" routine getting all Buffy on the monsters but is still worried that its her looks not her skills that get her attention. Cardellini's Velma on the other hand gets a love interest--and even all dolled up at one point--but can't get rid of her inherent geekiness. It's Shaggy and Scooby who experience the biggest revelation realizing they really are nothing but giant screw-ups. Lillard actually turns in some (and I can't believe I'm actually saying this) poignant moments as Shag grapples with his inequities. They all realize in the end though that for the good of Mystery Inc. it's best to be true to yourself. Thank god.
Director Raja Gosnell goes full throttle in his second Scooby effort with more action and more elaborate theme-parky sets than the original. Even as the characters pause to reflect on their faults these moments are thankfully short-lived before the gang is thrust into another wild chase or fight sequence keeping the kiddies' minds occupied--and allowing the adult fans to laugh at all the monsters they remember from the TV show. One of the criticisms from the first Scooby-Doo was that it didn't provide enough "inside" jokes for the grown-up enthusiasts (and face it there are probably more of them than kids). But Scooby-Doo 2 harkens back to the good old days and even pokes fun at all those criminals whose evil plans and ghost disguises were foiled by the meddlesome quintet. They all gather at their own watering hole called the Faux Ghost where they can throw darts at pictures of the Mystery Inc. gang. Funny stuff. Overall the sequel provides the same madcap fun the original did without requiring the use of too much brainpower.
The good, bad and the ugly on TV:
They won't be there for you
For die-hard Friends fans, the recent revelation that the show will end following its 2001-02 season came as bad news.
For some, however, myself included, it's the right call to put the show out of its creative misery.
The indications were there last season: glitzy guest stars getting more camera time than regulars, fantastical storylines, and 16 people stranded in Australia dominating the Must See timeslot. Not to mention that each cast member was beginning to ask for such massive salaries that it made all six of them intensely unlikable.
A couple of the Friends really need not worry. Jennifer Aniston's officially a pop-culture icon, and David Schwimmer's performance in HBO's upcoming miniseries Band of Brothers is a wonderful piece of weasel acting. They'll be fine. They'll all be fine. Stone-cold wealthy.
Robert Iler: millionaire?
The Sopranos' Robert Iler reportedly bragged to police officers following his July 4 arrest for theft and marijuana possession, saying, "Don't you worry about me. I'm a millionaire."
That may be true, but isn't young Robert forgetting that he works on a show where main characters die all the time? He may have some cash, but can he hold onto it if the show's producers decide he's a liability?
Perhaps he should have a little discussion with actor Vincent Pastore (who played "Big Pussy" on the series, before getting whacked). One minute, he's a star. The next, he's sitting next to the Olsen twins as the "Secret Square."
Wise up, Robert.
Mister Rogers: retiring legend
In an age when little Pokemon creatures teach kids how to gamble, it's nice to see a children's program that utilizes TV as a brilliant learning tool.
That's what PBS' Mister Rogers Neighborhood did for 34 years, but as of Friday, Sept. 29, the show ends production as its star, 73-year-old Fred Rogers, retires. And he deserves a break.
But there'll be no more puppet shows that don't involve a Ninja Turtle in some way. No more visits by a mailman who doesn't hate your very guts.
Yep, we're now left with good old-fashioned capitalism for kids on the tube. More trading cards, more Gameboys. Get ready for Christmas.
From the "beating a dead horse department": CBS announced Wednesday that a handful of the cast members from both installments of Survivor will visit the Big Brother II house on Sept. 5. From the first Survivor, Gervase Peterson and Susan Hawk will drop by the house, and from Survivor: The Australian Outback, Alicia Callaway and Jeff Varner will pop in. The castaways will go head-to-head against the remaining houseguests in a competition of survival skills.
Has CBS lost its originality? Rehashing old castaways on new shows--castaways who didn't even win anything? Well, you can't really blame CBS. Maybe this move will finally push Big Brother II up in the ratings?
ABC: Nielsen king
Sensationalism. It's a beautiful thing--if you're a TV network.
ABC usually tops the weekly Nielsen rankings with Millionaire. We hardly flinch when we see it. But last week, it was the news magazine show PrimeTime Thursday that rose to No. 1, thanks to that little ferret from California, Gary Condit.
Yes, the interview he sat through with Connie Chung was drivel, but it scored big in the ratings. While Condit's situation is a story of grotesque proportions, it nonetheless drew the biggest audience in primetime. If only ABC could score a live confession with Robert Blake--then ABC execs could rest easy for weeks on end. Just make sure it airs during November sweeps.