Rap veterans Public Enemy stunned revellers with a surprise performance at a New York block party hosted by director Spike Lee on Saturday (28Jun14) to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his movie Do The Right Thing. A slew of celebrities, including Wesley Snipes, rapper/actor Mos Def, comedian Dave Chappelle and singer Erykah Badu, took part in the event, which was held on the same block in Lee's native Brooklyn where the cult film about racial tensions was shot back in 1999.
Lee documented the occasion with a series of snaps on Instagram.com and alongside one image, he wrote,"10,000 people showed up, danced, sang, rap (sic) and had a great time. Thank you to everyone that showed mad love for the 25th anniversary of Do The Right Thing".
He later posted a picture of Public Enemy's Chuck D onstage and added, "For the finale Public Enemy was the surprise guest artists. When (they) came on stage... people went nuts."
Lee will have more to celebrate on Monday (30Jun14) after Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams declared 30 June Do the Right Thing Day.
The Brooklyn block party took place a day after Lee attended a special screening of Do The Right Thing at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where he signed autographs and took part in a question and answer session with director John Singleton.
The film was introduced by the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and also featured a pre-recorded video message from U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, who reminisced about watching the movie on their first date.
The President said, "I took her to this new movie everybody was talking about, directed by a guy that not that many people had heard of... So Spike, thank you for helping me impress Michelle, and thank you for telling a powerful story...
"Do the Right Thing still holds up a mirror to our society, and it makes us laugh, and think and challenges all of us to see ourselves in one another."
Magnolia Pictures via Everett Collection
Actress/filmmaker Sarah Polley is reportedly set to adapt author John Green's Looking For Alaska for the big screen. Bosses at Paramount Pictures are in talks with the Dawn of the Dead star to work on a script and potentially direct the film version of the best-selling debut novel by The Fault In Our Stars author Green, according to Deadline.com.
Paramount executives bought the rights to the 2005 novel, about a 16-year-old boy and his adventures in an Alabama boarding school, the same year the book was released, and hired The O.C. creator Josh Schwartz to write and direct the film. Green stated on his website that despite the fact that he "desperately loved" the screenplay, "there was no enthusiasm for that kind of movie at Paramount".
However, thanks to the success of The Fault in Our Stars, which recently surpassed the $166 million (£98 million) mark at the worldwide box office, studio bosses have since revitalised the project.
Green's 2008 mystery novel Paper Towns is also set for a big screen adaptation, reuniting him with The Fault in Our Stars director Josh Boone, and actor/singer Nat Wolff, who appears in the cancer drama alongside Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort.
Veteran actor Richard Chamberlain will take to the stage to sing a classic tune from My Fair Lady at an AIDS charity benefit on Saturday night (10May14). The Dr. Kildare star will perform at the 30th annual Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (S.T.A.G.E) in Los Angeles and show off his vocal skills with a rendition of I Could Have Danced All Night, famously lip-synched by Audrey Hepburn in the hit 1964 film.
He says, "I said, 'Well how about I Could Have Danced All Night? It's very happy and upbeat. We had a rehearsal... with the musical director and decided how to present it."
Singer Debby Boone will also perform at the Saban Theatre event, which raises money for AIDS charities in the Los Angeles area.
Shailene Woodley was so desperate to play teenage cancer sufferer Hazel Grace Lancaster in the movie adaptation of John Green's novel The Fault In Our Stars she wrote a 13,000-word essay to the author campaigning for the role. The actress loved Green's novel and got hold of an early draft of the script for the film and decided she had to be a part of it - but her enthusiasm initially turned director Josh Boone off.
Convinced that, at 22, the Divergent star was too old to play the teenage lead in his film, Boone considered over 200 other young actresses before agreeing to fly to Chicago, Illinois to meet with Woodley as she filmed Divergent last year (13).
The director tells Entertainment Weekly, "I liked her a lot personally, but I still didn't think she was Hazel."
But then Woodley auditioned for him and he adds, "Within about two minutes, I knew it was going to be her. I was on the floor. I thought, 'Why am I fighting this? There's nobody better than her. She's awesome'."
Green agreed when he saw the audition on tape: "I suddenly was in a blind panic, jumping on the phone and screaming, 'We must lock this down! It has to be Shailene Woodley! She is Hazel!'"
And the author feels sure that fans of the book will agree with him that Boone cast the perfect Hazel and Gus in Woodley and Ansel Elgort when the film opens this summer (14).
He adds, "Shailene has become Hazel to me. Ansel has become Gus. To see things I wrote, to hear them in their voices... It's been beyond my wildest imagination."
A judge in Los Angeles has issued a warrant for the arrest of singer Pat Boone. The veteran crooner is a wanted man after missing a court appearance in connection to a cruise ship condo lawsuit.
According to TMZ.com, the 79 year old is caught up in a messy legal case after purchasing an apartment on a luxury passenger ship. The company behind the project was sued by its investors and ordered to pay $800,000 (£500,000) in legal costs.
The payout was never fulfilled and now the lawyers involved are allegedly targeting the people who bought condos.
Boone was subpoenaed to appear in court but never showed up, prompting the presiding judge to issue an arrest warrant.
The singer is reportedly on vacation in Hawaii.
The team behind the upcoming film adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars are reuniting to turn another one of author John Green's novels into a movie. The big screen version of The Fault in Our Stars, Green's best-selling young adult novel about teenage cancer sufferers, doesn't arrive in cinemas until June (14), but the writing and producing team behind the project is already looking forward to its next project.
Studio bosses at Fox 2000 have inked a deal to make Green's 2008 mystery novel Paper Towns into a movie, which will be directed by The Fault in Our Stars director Josh Boone and adapted by returning screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.
Paper Towns will star actor/singer Nat Wolff, who also appears in the cancer drama alongside Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort.
Once regularly under fire for their lack of diversity, the Academy Awards have gained a reprieve in recent years as people of various ethnic backgrounds have received nominations and scored wins. This year, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o both earned acting nominations for 12 Years a Slave, while the film's director Steve McQueen was nominated as both a director and producer. Gravity's director Alfonso Cuaron was nominated in the same categories as McQueen, and Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) notched a nom for Best Supporting Actor. In recent years, there have been wins in supporting categories for Octavia Spencer and Mo'Nique, and in directing for Asian filmmaker Ang Lee.
Compared to the the majority of the Academy Awards history, where wins for actors like Sidney Poitier, Rita Moreno, and Jose Ferrer were very much the exception and not the rule, the Oscars are far more diverse. Of course, that's like saying that there have been strides made to curb global warming... any progress is great, but that doesn't mean that there isn't more work to do.
Publisher Lee & Low recently analyzed the first 85 years of Oscars to spotlight issues such as there being only one minority winner (Halle Berry) in the Best Actress Category, that only one woman (Kathryn Bigelow) has ever won for directing and that only six minority performers have won for Best Actor... and that's including Ben Kingsley, who is of Indian descent. The Los Angeles Times originally published a look at the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in 2012 and updated it in 2013 to show that 93-percent of those casting votes were white and about three quarters are male. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is a black female, helped spearhead a movement to add new members to the voting pool, but the Times found that the changes have had only a minimal impact on the percentages.
The makeup of the Academy's voting blocks are only partially to blame, however. While there are some women and minorities in top decision-making roles at studios, like Sony Picture's Amy Pascal and Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara, the majority of studio executives are still white males. The movies made by Hollywood, while perhaps more diverse than in the past, still feature casts and crews that are predominantly white and, particularly behind the camera, largely male. Adding to the problem, UCLA's 2014 Diversity Report showed that only a small group of talent agencies represent an overwhelming majority of the actors, directors and writers making movies for studios, but that their rosters were less diverse compared to all other agencies combined.
While there has been progress in films featuring black actors, there is still a gap when it comes to representing other minority groups like Asians and Hispanics. The last Asian actor to be nominated for a leading role was Kingsley in 2003. Not counting European-born actors like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, or Joaquin Phoenix, who was born while his parents were living in Puerto Rico, only one Latino actor (Demian Bichir for A Better Life in 2011) has been nominated for a lead role in the last 10 years.
Until Hollywood starts telling stories that are as diverse as the nation as a whole, and employing casts and crews that represent that diversity, there will continue to be only minimal gains realized at the Academy Awards. After all, the prerequisite for earning an Oscar nomination is having the opportunity to do the work in the first place.
There might come an award season where an actual mix of nominees in all categories adequately represents women and minority groups, but it hasn't happened yet. Just being better isn't good enough.
Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong'o had guests at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon moved to tears as she recalled how she had struggled to accept her dark complexion as a child and used to pray for lighter skin. The 12 Years A Slave star opened up about her self-confidence battles while picking up the Best Breakthrough Performance Award at the annual event on Thursday (27Feb14), when the Kenyan actress admitted it had taken her years to feel comfortable in her own skin.
She started her acceptance speech by reading out a letter sent to her by a young fan, who wrote, "Dear Lupita, I think you're really lucky to be this black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia's Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me."
Recalling her response to the note, she told the audience, which included fellow actresses Kerry Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Bassett and Naomie Harris, "My heart bled a little when I read those words."
Nyong'o then remembered how she had been "teased and taunted" about her "night-shaded skin" as a youth and how she had prayed every night for a little help from God.
She said, "My one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before."
The actress revealed it was only when she laid eyes on Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek that she recognised the beauty in her own skin colour.
She continued, "When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty."
Nyong'o concluded her speech by addressing the young fan whose letter had so deeply moved her: "I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shame in black beauty."
Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organisation behind the Oscars, was also honoured at the Essence luncheon.
A planned film adaptation of Stephen King's classic horror The Stand is one step closer to the big screen after director Josh Boone entered talks to take on the long-delayed project. Harry Potter moviemaker David Yates had initially been tasked with taking the 1978 novel to the big screen, but he stepped down in 2011 and Ben Affleck was subsequently attached to the film.
However, he walked away from The Stand last year (13), as did his replacement, Scott Cooper.
The Bourne Supremacy's Paul Greengrass was the last big name linked to the job, but now studio executives at Warner Bros. have tapped Boone to bring the project to fruition.
The Stuck In Love filmmaker, who also made Shailene Woodley's upcoming drama The Fault in Our Stars, is currently in negotiations to rewrite the script and take charge as director.
The Stand was previously turned into a 1994 TV mini-series starring Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe and Molly Ringwald.
Alone Yet Not Alone/Facebook
Alone Yet Not Alone gets an Oscar nod — controversy stirs. The Oscars take the nod away — controversy grows.
The just-shy-of-unknown picture earned a Best Original Song nomination for its title number, "Alone Yet Not Alone," written by Dennis Spiegel (lyrics) and Bruce Broughton (music). Technically speaking, the nomination should furrow some brows:
For one, Alone Yet Not Alone only had a 21-day (and largely overlooked) theatrical run in 2013, a move to option it for awards eligibility — enough to color the film with a puzzling rouge, maybe, but not quite to support accusations of wrongful nomination... as proven by the fact that a yet unnamed organization hired a private investigator to confirm the legitimacy of Alone's eligibility. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the investigation — which focused specifically on the existence of print advertisements during its theatrical run, which are necessary for a film aiming for an award — deemed the film A-OK for nomination.
Far more important is the official reason for the song's disqualification: a specific degree of campaigning conducted by Broughton, who just so happens to be a former Academy governor. Reports following the removal of "Alone Yet Not Alone" from the nominees list share a message sent by Broughton to Oscar voters during nominations week, courtesy of CBS News.
Anybody who remembers Melissa Leo's Best Supporting Actress candidacy back in 2010 knows that awards campaigning is hardly taboo practice. Off-putting, maybe, but not against the rules, which is why the official ruling on Broughton's actions might perplex. According to Academy President Cheryl Boone, it wasn't so much what he did, but who he was. The mere fact that Broughton's name, as a former Academy governor, appeared at the head of the aforesaid email would have been enough to sway voters, as she articulates in her statement: "No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one's position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one's own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage."
Unsurprisingly, Broughton has responded with dismay, affirming that his intentions were never to use his professional history to sway voters, but only to ensure their awareness of the film and song, a practice he asserts is within the parameters of traditional Oscar campaining.
So... who's right?
An even more pressing question might be if there were any additional factors that went into the decision to oust the Alone Yet Not Alone title song from the running. Although the above mentioned private investigation was conducted, presumably, by a third party (Cinemablend writer Sean O'Connell jokes — or hypothesizes? — that "it's got to be the people behind Inside Llewyn Davis"), it indicates the overarching suspicion associated with Alone But Not Alone's nomination from the beginning.
When you take a look at the film itself, you might understand the contentious feelings. Alone Yet Not Alone is a self-decreed "faith-based" film that has garnered criticism for manipulative religious viewpoints and racist depictions of Native Americans. Before even stirring unrest over its eligibility, the new publicity for Alone Yet Not Alone stirred allegations of prejudice. And we've got to wonder if the public response to the film being considered for an Oscar in any way influenced the Academy's decision to pull the plug.
Already the nature of the debate is shaky. Some are defending the legality of Broughton's actions (like Hitfix columnist Kristopher Tapley) and highlighting arbitrariness in the Academy's decision. And considering the holes in the organization's defense of the nomination removal as well as the private investigation and the Alone But Not Alone outcry that preceded this new development, we're left to question just what factors pushed the Academy into such a rare action, and to ask ourselves if whatever feelings we may have about Alone But Not Alone should in fact impact our outlook on its disqualification.
Again: who's right?
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