Country stars Rascal Flatts are set to expand their acting resumes by delving back into history to appear in a mini-series based during the American Civil War. The These Days hitmakers have scored roles in writer Michael Frost Beckner's new TV project To Appomattox, which stars Homeland's Damian Lewis and is helmed by his former Band of Brothers director, Mikael Salomon.
Bassist Jay DeMarcus explains, "A good friend of ours (Beckner), who wrote the episode that we were in of CSI, it's taken him, like, 15 years to write this Civil War mini-series called To Appomattox. It's sort of like Band of Brothers for the Civil War: it follows the same group of guys around from the beginning of the American Civil War to the end."
DeMarcus is also getting involved in the music side of the series, adding: I'm actually going to compose and score the mini-series, and we all have roles in there as soldiers. I'm a confederate soldier named Jessie Dunlap. He's a combination of several different real-life confederate soldiers, and so he's a really interesting character."
Rascal Flatts aren't the only country stars featured in To Appomattox - Dwight Yoakam, Trace Adkins, Kix Brooks and Sara Evans will also make appearances.
The series is expected to air later this year (15).
Garth Brooks has made good on his promise to reschedule a TV appearance after cancelling multiple New York City performances following the controversial cop killing ruling in Missouri last month (Nov14). The Dance hitmaker was scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Live! with Kelly and Michael and Today at the end of November (14), but axed all three because he felt the promotional stops would seem "distasteful" amid nationwide protests over a grand jury's decision not to charge a police officer who killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August (14).
Brooks, who has been promoting his new album Man Against Machine, told fans he hoped to reschedule the cancelled appearances, and now he is set to take to the stage for morning programme Today on 8 January (15).
According to TheWrap.com, he will perform on the show, and appear in segments throughout all four hours of the programme.
It's no secret that Drake (Aubrey Graham for those of you in the know) once acted on the teen drama series, Degrassi: The Next Generation. When he first hit the scene as a rapper, rappers like Lil' Wayne would joke about him playing a character in a wheel chair. Well he certainly has made it far but us fans will never forget how his character, Jimmy Brooks, was treated on that show. He basically got the short end of the stick by getting weird dialogue, sad story lines, and terrible treatment from other characters.
1. Sometimes he had really corny lines that would be given to him because he's black.
2. A lot of his acting had to do with reacting to the stupidity of his best friend, Spinner.
3. He always had crazy hair, but to make it worse he rocked a jerry curl to be Michael Jackson for an episode.
4. The girl his character dated was kind of the worst.
5. Having a persistent boner was a legitimate story line for his character.
6. And of course we can't forget...
7. The worst part is that he didn't get shot for anything he did. It's because his best friend framed him!
8. We then had to heart-breakingly watch his character go through physical therapy.
9. Other characters loved calling him names.
10. In general, he was kind of just surrounded by messed up people.
But what do you think Degrassi fans, did you feel bad for Jimmy? Tweet us your answers using the Twitter handles below!
One Direction have made chart history in the U.S. by becoming the only group to debut its first four albums at number one. The boy band's new release Four has rocketed to the top of the Billboard 200 countdown with 387,000 first-week sales.
The album also opens with the second biggest debut of 2014 - behind singer Harry Styles' ex-girlfriend Taylor Swift's 1989, which entered the chart at number one earlier this month (Nov14) with 1.287 opening week sales.
One Direction, who triumphed at the ARIA Awards in Australia hours before the new chart statistics were revealed, become the fourth act to have its first four studio albums debut at the top - soloists Britney Spears, DMX and and Beyonce have also managed the feat.
Meanwhile, Swift's 1989 album slips to two after spending three weeks at the top and a cappella group Pentatonix officially kick off the U.S. holiday season by crashing into the top three at three with That's Christmas To Me, one of three festive albums in the top 10.
Also getting ready for Christmas early are Idina Menzel, who lands her first top 10 hit with Holiday Wishes at 10, and Michael Buble who returns to the chart at nine with Christmas.
Nickelback debut No Fixed Address at four on the new countdown and Garth Brooks' Man Against Machine rounds out the top five.
Country singer Garth Brooks has cancelled several U.S. TV promotional appearances in the wake of violent nationwide protests surrounding a Missouri grand jury's decision not to charge a police officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August (14). The Dance hitmaker was scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show, Live! with Kelly and Michael and Today this week (begs24Nov14), but he has axed all three because he felt the promotional stops would seem "distasteful".
In a message on Facebook.com, he writes, "We landed in NY last night to the news of the civil unrest that was going on in our nation.
"To spend the day promoting our stuff like nothing was wrong, seemed distasteful to me. I will gladly reschedule any or all appearances the networks will allow. Love one another."
Violence erupted throughout America on Monday night (24Nov14) after the jury's decision not to charge police officer Darren Wilson hit the headlines. Officials in Ferguson, Missouri have called in over 2,000 members of the National Guard to patrol the streets on Tuesday (25Nov14) in an effort to avoid a repeat of the riots that followed Brown's death in August.
Mel Brooks, Molly Ringwald and Richard Dreyfuss were among the stars who turned out to pay tribute to director Paul Mazursky at a memorial service in California on Friday (05Sep14). The Oscar-nominated moviemaker passed away on 30 June (14), aged 84, after suffering a cardiac arrest, and his friends, family and former colleagues gathered at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, California on Friday to pay their last respects.
The memorial service was attended by famous faces including Nick Nolte, Ed Begley, Jr. and Elliott Gould, while a number of celebrity guests also gave tributes to the late director.
Speakers included actors George Segal, Michael Greene and Molly Ringwald, who called Mazursky the "best director I ever worked with," before singing I'll Be Seeing You, accompanied by her father Bob on piano.
Jaws star Richard Dreyfuss, who starred in three Mazursky films, explained how he idolised the filmmaker, saying, "When I was around Paul, I wanted to be Paul. And I like being Richard. But I wanted to be Paul."
Mel Brooks took to the stage last and used his tribute to compare Mazursky to legendary directors including Federico Fellini and Vittorio De Sica, telling the audience, "In my assessment, he was our Fellini, our De Sica. The best capturer of human behaviour on film was Paul."
The service ended with a montage of film clips and a performance by singer/actress Ellen Greene, who gave a rendition of Goodbye, My Friend.
I expected quite a few things from Zach Braff's long-buffered Garden State follow-up Wish I Was Here: a brooding template, quirky imagery, Shins music. But I did not expect consistent, detailed conversations about Jewish law and scripture. Sure, Garden State included nods to the religion and culture (with which Braff was raised) but hardly to the degree that we see in Wish I Was Here. From the very first scene, in which Braff's character's daughter Grace (played by Joey King, a highlight in the flick) cites her rabbi's admonition of foul language, we're embedded in a distinctly Jewish atmosphere — one that, at times, gets so specific that I wondered what the experience of watching such a film might be for someone who didn't grow up with the religion, like I did.
Full scenes revolve around the practices of Grace's adherence to the religion, without much exposition as to what we're seeing. Braff chauffers his viewers through the sequences poking fun at or offering affectionate nods to the particulars of Yeshiva academia with a "Get it?" or "Remember that?" attitude, insinuating a familiarity that the majority of his audience — if even close to a direct ratio of the population in large — probably won't have.
Movies about Christianity have the luxury of going specific — no matter what religion you subscribe to, if you grew up in the Western World you more than likely know the basic gist of what goes on in church. But when it comes to Judaism, direct depictions can feel esoteric.
It's not as though Braff is the only director to venture the illustration of Jewish religion and culture in a mainstream movie (as "indie" as Braff's persona is, he's still well-known enough for his work to garner public attention). We think immediately of Woody Allen and Mel Brooks, two directors who have frequently colored their movies with a Jewish context. The difference, however, between the Allen/Brooks methods (which are, furthermore, very different from one another) and that of Braff is that you're more likely to see Allen take a jab at nebbishy stereotypes or Brooks make a crass crack about circumcisions than you are to see either delve into the particulars of the day-to-day at a Yeshiva school.
Focus Features via Everett Collection
A recent film that drove us fairly deep into Jewish education is A Serious Man, the Coen Brothers dark comedy that centers around a physics professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) and his son's disciplinary tribulations at Hebrew school. While the Coen Brothers dabble quite frequently in the fringes of our world, we're not surprised to see them deliver such a vivid portrait of Judaism in the Midwest. In fact, A Serious Man devotes itself to the idea that Stuhlbarg's family is stamped with an "outsider" label,
But Braff adheres to no such idea, which is at once puzzling and quite gratifying. With the exception of a single one-off joke from a gentile neighbor boy, Judaism is never meant to feel like anything but "the norm." We're invited into the film through the Bloom family, and as such are welcomed into their customs, which are treated with the same engagement, familiarity, and normative mentality with which any Martin Scorsese film would treat Catholicism.
It's an interesting, and impressive, move by Braff. Although we've seen Judaism depicted on the screen time and time again, Wish I Was Here is a unique example of a Jewish movie: one that isn't driven by a narrative entrenched in Jewish history but is foremost reverent to the religion; one that treats it not so much like an "outer tier" culture but a central, basic, human practice. As loving as the tributes to Judaism of Allen, Brooks, and the Coens are, they are often inclined to approach the religion as a "something else." But Wish I Was Here just treats it as the something.
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Singer-turned-actress Billie Piper won over theatre reviewers with her turn in topical new play Great Britain on Monday (30Jun14), with critics describing the phone hacking satire as "blessedly funny" and "bluntly entertaining". The comedy drama, by playwright Richard Bean, is based on real life British scandals including the phone-hacking trial and the controversy surrounding politicians' expenses, and it was rehearsed in secret before its opening at London's National Theatre.
The opening night came a week after the phone-hacking trial verdicts caused a sensation in the U.K., and the topical subject matter was a hit with the critics.
Reviewers were also full of praise for Piper's performance as loathsome social-climbing news editor Paige Britain, with Dominic Cavendish, of U.K. newspaper The Daily Telegraph, calling her turn "convincingly shallow and ruthless" and adding of the play, "(It is) a vitriolic, bluntly entertaining comedy that initially has the audience tickled pink with its levity, then finally blushing red with national shame."
Michael Billington, in a four-out-of-five star review in Britain's The Guardian, also compliments Piper on doing "an excellent job" and hails Great Britain as "blessedly funny", writing, "It has the bracing quality of topicality and is written with real verve... I mean it as a compliment when I say his play has a tabloid energy and bravura."
The Hollywood Reporter's Stephen Dalton agrees, writing, "(The play) puts an agreeably lurid and highly amusing slant on current events," but the Daily Mail's Quentin Letts notes in a three-out-of-five critique, "The heaviness of the humour obscures much of the seriousness... The play is a bit of a mess in places."
Britain's phone-hacking trial ended last week (ends29Jun14) with former News of the World boss Rebekah Brooks acquitted on all charges. Andy Coulson, another ex-editor of the now-defunct tabloid, was found guilty on a charge of conspiracy to intercept communications and is due to face a retrial on corruption charges alongside the publication's former royal editor Clive Goodman.
Great Britain runs at the National Theatre until 23 August (14).
Proving that there’s nothing Hollywood won’t reboot if given then chance, a new Scooby Doo movie is reportedly in the works at Warner Bros. According to Variety, the studio is looking to send Scooby, Shaggy, and the gang on another spooky adventure, which will be written by Randall Green. The news comes just a year after Warner Bros. also announced plans for an animated Scooby Doo movie, which is reportedly still on track. Though the last live-action Mystery Gang outings, 2002’s Scooby Doo and its sequel Monsters Unleashed, did well commercially, they weren’t received well by critics and fans of the series, which is why it’s surprising that Warner Bros. would be so intent at taking a third shot at big-screen adventure. After all, the live-action Scooby Doo’s were only slightly better than Yogi Bear. There are plenty of other great classic Hanna-Barbera properties that would make for great films, so why does Scooby get a third shot at big screen success? Think about all of the possibilities that are open…
Wacky Races Concept: Think The Lego Movie meets Speed Racer, with a touch of Mega Mind thrown in. Plot: Set at the Wacky Races Grand Prix, a sprawling, dangerous race that spans three days and covers a variety of terrains, the film charts the highs and lows of all your favorite racers, from Penelope Pitstop to the Ant Hill Mob to the Gruesome Twosome, and sees Dick Dastardly’s desperate attempts to finally experience the glory for himself. Starring: Charlie Day as Dick Dastardly, Isla Fisher as Penelope Pitstop, Bill Hader as Clyde the leader of the Ant Hill Mob, Amy Poheler as the Red Max, and Tom Hanks as the Narrator. Directed By: Edgar Wright.
Inch High, Private Eye Concept: The Maltese Falcon meets Osmosis Jones.Plot: The city is being terrorized by a robber who keeps stealing priceless works of art and jewels from museums and homes. The police are understaffed, and the detectives are at their wits’ ends, and the case has reached a dead end. Then, Mrs. Gotrocks hires Inch High, Private Eye, the most brilliant and tortured detective around to look into the case. But she might not like what he finds… Casting: Casey Affleck as Inch High, Kate Mara as Lori, Josh Brolin as Gator, Tommy Lee Jones as Mr. Finkerton and June Squibb as Mrs. Gotrocks. Directed By: The Coen Brothers.
Hong Kong Phooey Concept: Think 22 Jump Street, but sillier. Plot: Penry Pooch has always wanted to be a cop, but his enthusiasm for the job doesn’t quite balance out his complete incompetence. After failing out of the police academy, he takes a job working as a janitor under the watchful eye of the constantly frustrated Sergeant. One night, when he’s the only one at the precinct, he stops and apprehends a robber, which inspires him to take up crime fighting as Hong Kong Phooey. Luckily, he’s got Spot to help him out of whatever jams he finds himself in. Casting: Will Arnett as Penry, Keith David as Sarge, Anna Kendrick as Rosemary, the telephone operator, and Nick Frost as Spot. Directed By: Shane Black.
The Jetsons Concept: August: Osage County in space. Plot: George Jetson is an ordinary man, living an ordinary life. He loves his family, endures his job and spends his time relaxing with his dog, Astro. But when he catches his wife having an affair with his boss, his world comes crashing down around him, and he’s forced to re-evaluate everything he knew about his life, and decide whether to move forward or move on. Starring: Joaquin Phoenix as George, Sandra Bullock as Jane, Hailee Steinfeld as Judy, and Steve Buscemi as Mr. Spacely, with Art Parksinson as Elroy and Scarlett Johansson as Rosie. Directed By: Spike Jonze.
JabberJaw Concept: Almost Famous meets Jaws, with a dash of Star Trek .Plot: The Neptunes were on their way to becoming the hottest rock band under the seas, until their drummer abruptly left. Then, they discovered Jabberjaw, a 15-foot-tall shark with the skills of Keith Moon, and it seemed like they had it made. But the path to rock stardom is paved with dangers and it’s time for the Neptunes to face them. Starring: Chris Pratt as Jabberjaw, Adam Levine as Clamhead, Malin Ackerman as Bubbles, Zoe Kravitz as Shelly, and Oscar Isaac as Biff. Directed By: John Carney.
Quick Draw McGraw Concept: A better homage to Blazing Saddles than A Million Ways to Die in the West .Plot: The Wild West is a dangerous place, thanks to outlaws, frequent dueling and a lack of modern medicine, but one man is there to keep order in place, and uphold justice where ever he goes… Sherrif Quick Draw McGraw. Unfortunately, he might have finally met his match when the deadliest outlaw in the west rides into his town. Starring: Damon Wayans Jr. as Quick Draw McGraw and Fred Armisen as Baba Looey.Directed By: Mel Brooks, in an ideal world.
Space Ghost Concept: It’s basically Guardians of the Galaxy, but with a monkey instead of a raccoon. Plot: After Zorak, Space Ghosts’ nemesis, escapes from prison, he recruits Black Widow (no, not that Black Widow) and Brak and Sisto in order to form a league of villains that will take over the galaxy and allow chaos to reign, but in order to do so, they need a gauntlet of power, one that only Space Ghost’s sidekick Jace possesses. Can Space Ghost and Jan rescue him and save the universe before it’s too late? Starring: Channing Tatum as Space Ghost, Emma Stone as Jan, Miles Teller as Jace, Idris Elba as Zorak, Dwayne Johnson as Brak, Jason Statham as Sisto, and Nicole Beharie as Black Widow (see, told you she was different!).Directed By: Joss Whedon, of course.
Top Cat Concept: Dancing on the Edge meets GoodFellas.Plot: Set in the 1940s, a group of rag-tag musicians are groomed to become a proper jazz sensation. But in order to do so, they’ll have to overcome prejudice, corrupt managers, in-fighting, and substance abuse and stick by each other through everything. Starring: Anthony Mackie as TC, Lamorne Morris as Brain, Albert Tsai as Choo-Choo, Michael B. Jordan as Fancy-Fancy, Josh Gad as Benny the Ball, Ruth Negga as Trixie, and Sean Penn as Officer Dibble.Directed By: Martin Scorsese.
You're welcome, Hollywood.
Hollywood treats its audiences to so many love stories every year, but few quite like Bright Days Ahead: a movie, from French director Marion Vernoux, that touches on the enchanting pull of new love, but also those in a longtime marriage. Vernoux tackles the difficulties inherent in sustaining a relationship over a lifetime, bringing to light in her film just how much more valid a romance about a mature woman like her hero Caroline (played by Fanny Ardant) can be.
Speaking to Vernoux and Ardant, we tapped into what separates "authentic" love from that we often see in cinema and the true nature of love as it grows and changes over the course of one's life.
I can't remember the last time that I saw a movie that approached romance so honestly, in a way that actually felt like it would happen in real life. Was the specific intention to approach romance in a way that you don't often see in the movies?
Marion Vernoux: I didn’t deliberately set out to make this kind of different film. I wasn’t thinking of that as my approach. But I’m very glad you see it that way. For me, as Fanny has often said, too, I didn’t want a film that would have this layer of romanticism on top of it. I wanted it to seem believable that two people could get together and there could be this spark between them, but without having it be the usual overboard kind of reaction between them. To make it seem like it was something that could of actually happened.
Was there something specific about the character that really rang true?
Fanny Ardant: One part of the character of Caroline: she’s not easily bound. She likes her freedom. She’s not a conformist. I feel at ease with this character. It’s like a part of myself. The rest is cinema!
MV: For me, it was almost sort of an equation. I wanted to make a film that showed that when you fall in love, you don’t always fall in love the same way all the time. It’s not always the same. I wanted to show that how you fall in love and falling in love is something that can evolve. It evolves with you as a person based on your experience, based on your age, based on the life that you’ve lived. I have this fantasy that the older you get, the more experienced you get, the better you are at loving and being loved. That, for me, was what was important. That as you mature, you can progress in love.
That brings up something that I think is very interesting. I wonder why most romantic movies are about people in their 20s or their teens, not about mature women, who have had legitimate life experience. What do you think people in Hollywood are afraid of? And what value do movies about these women have that the usual products do not?
FA: If you look carefully at the literature — French, Russian, English — it was a long time ago that they started to speak about love affairs with older women. At that time, when you are 40, it is like now when you are 60. Because the population is becoming older and older. It was always in the humanity. Maybe cinema, because it is a picture, the director or the cinematographic industry thinks you [need] sex appeal. So they put a beautiful face, a beautiful body, and they forget the true feelings. As you said, you can be in love like Romeo and Juliet at 20 or 15, or at 80, like Henry Miller. I think because it’s a picture, the representation of love belongs to the beauty. The perfect body, perfect face. I think from the beginning of humanity, love affairs were always at every age.
MV: That's very true.
I agree! Were there any other specific films or pieces of literature, like you mention, that helped to shape your ideas about how real, legitimate love stories should be handled in art?
MV: One of the most important films for me was The Graduate. It is one of my favorite films because it shows things just how they should not be. What you have there, the older woman is shown as the predator, and she’s got him in her clutches. And he’s this young guy, he’s still a virgin, she deflowers him. It’s all these stereotypes. And even as a teenager — this is the kind of movie that made me want to live and made me want to make films — but it’s also to show you that Ms. Robinson is the exact antithesis of what Caroline is in the film. It’s also why I included a tiny little reference in the film, pulling out the stocking.
Yes! I noticed that.
FA: Do you remember this movie, an American movie, about a love affair with an older woman, Terms of Endearment? I remember this movie. That was no problem. Do you remember the lady? [Shirley MacLaine]. With Jack Nicholson. It was strong because you believed this love affair between them and in the middle of the drama —
MV: Who was the director? James L. Brooks?
FA: So maybe, for [those] reasons ... it succeeded. Sometimes you have that kind of movie. It's not all the rubbish things that pass. You had Romeo and Juliet once. But you try to do the same, it's very difficult.
With so many love stories in film, very few of them that I've seen are actually about marriage. Usually they're about people who meet and fall in love for the first time.
FA: We have this sentence in French: "Happy people have no story." It’s true. You are not going to speak about happiness.
MV: But it was important for me to speak about this marriage. I thought it was really important to show in a film, what do you do when you’ve lived together as a couple for such a long time? How do you survive those moments that are difficult? The times when you come out of sync with each other, and you’re just not on the same wavelength. But then manage to bring yourselves back into sync with each other. So I thought it was important to show that.
But do you both think there are so few movies about marriage because of that saying, "Happy people have no story"?
FA: No, because there's [also a saying], "A comedy finishing with a wedding is a tragedy starting."
FA: Excuse me. That is the French mentality.
Even though this movie is very authentic and grounded in reality, it's still a very enchanting movie, and delightful, romantic love story...
FA: When you are the spectator in the dark room, every time, a piece of life is caught. You never know. It’s not like the classic movie where part of the pleasure is knowing where it’s going to end. You never know. You are waiting for something, but you never know. [The viewers] don’t even know what they want. Because some people want that she stays with the lover, other people want her to go back to the husband. So, I think it's a movie made by that flash. You are in front of reality in real life. You have no time to think about reality. Reality, at the same time, for me, doesn’t exist. Reality is a vision that you have.
MV: I think it’s also Fanny's presence in the film that adds to that sensation you have of it being real but enchanting.
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