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.
RELATED: Baba Wawa Has The Chicken Pox. Get Well Soon!
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.
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
[Photo Credit: Christopher Peterson/FilmMagic]
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Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
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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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
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.