Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Artemis Fowl has been a very long time in the making, but it looks like the film is finally happening! The best-selling teen book about a boy genius's interaction with the fantasy world was in talks to become a film 12 years ago. Only recently has Disney announced its partnership with Harvey Weinstein in resurrecting the film. Michael Goldenberg, who adapted the script for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is set to write for it, and Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro will executive produce the film.
Patient fans of the books have been eagerly awaiting the cast list. Many fans believe Asa Butterfield, of Hugo and the upcoming Ender's Game, should play the eponymous Artemis. Fowl author Eoin Colfer has stated his preference for Irish actress Saoirse Ronan to play elf Holly Short, the female protagonist. Colfer says he wants the cast to be Irish, which is why he favors Ronan, but fans have pointed out that from the book’s description, Holly Short is a woman of color. No release date has yet been set for the film.
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Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is moving forward with the big screen adaptation of author Eoin Colfer's children's book series Artemis Fowl. The producer has teamed up with bosses at Disney to bring the first two novels in the eight-book collection to movie theatres. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix screenwriter Michael Goldenberg will pen the script, while Robert De Niro and his business partner Jane Rosenthal will executive produce.
Just nine days into its international release, Disney's Iron Man 3 starring Robert Downey, Jr. has already broken records and amassed a staggering $312 million in 42 international territories.... and all this before its North American debut! Here are some quick stats courtesy of Disney International:• Iron Man 3 has already passed the total international box office cume for Captain America of $192M.• Iron Man 3 has now passed the total international box office cume for Iron Man of $267M.• Iron Man 3 has now passed the total international box office cume for Thor of $268M.• Iron Man 3 will pass the total international box office cume for Iron Man 2 on Thursday ($312M), our 9th day of release.ChinaIron Man 3 posted an estimated $21.5M for its opening day, representing the highest opening day in box office history and is more than The Avengers opening weekend ($18M Sat-Sun). IMAX shattered their one day record in China, where we grossed an incredible $1.834 mil on 101 screens, besting their previous record (Titanic) by 30%. ThailandIron Man 3 opened on National Labor Day to post the highest opening day and single day in industry history there.South AfricaIron Man 3 posted the single biggest box office day of all-time.
When Disney reported this past Sunday that Iron Man 3 had a bigger international opening weekend than The Avengers ($195.3 million vs. $185.1 million), speculation began to build and the formerly unthinkable question was asked: "Could Iron Man 3 open in the realm of The Avengers record holding biggest North American weekend of all-time of $207.4 million?"
The fact that we are even thinking that this is a possibility shows the power of the influence of the international numbers on the expectations for the U.S. launch. Almost overnight the projections jumped from the $140 million range to a "based on tracking" number of around $170 million. This would still guarantee it a spot in the top 5 N. American opening weekends of all-time and were it to top $170 million it would rank as the second best opening weekend of all-time behind only its Marvel brethren The Avengers. (See chart below)
Top North American Opening Weekends:Marvel's The Avengers - $207,438,708Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - $169,189,427The Dark Knight Rises - $160,887,295The Dark Knight - $158,411,483The Hunger Games - $152,535,747Spider-Man 3 - $151,116,516
We can't wait to get a look at the midnight numbers for the film on Friday morning. Keep in mind that The Avengers ranked 10th on the list with "only" $18.7 million, but went on to post the second best single-day gross ever taking in $80,813,985 (behind only Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 2's $90,071,119).
What do you think? How big will Iron Man 3 open? Will The Avengers record opening weekend fall or retain the crown? No matter what the numbers for Iron Man 3 are, this is already shaping up to be quite an amazing kickoff weekend of the Summer of 2013!
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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 first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
The Tribeca Film Festival starts in a couple of days -- and to say the least, we're pretty excited. The festival features premieres of numerous films, including Troll Hunter, Newlyweds, a Kings of Leon documentary, and quite a few others. Now, the festival has announced the 38 lucky folks -- including David O. Russell, Whoopi Goldberg, Rainn Wilson, and numerous others -- who will judge these fine films. For more details, see the official release below:
New York, NY – April 18, 2010 – The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), presented by American Express, the Founding Sponsor of the Festival, today announced its jurors – a diverse and talented group of 38 individuals, including award-winning filmmakers and screenwriters, celebrated actors, respected journalists and media pioneers. They will be divided among the six competitive Festival categories and will announce the winning films, filmmakers and actors in those categories at the TFF Awards Night ceremony on April 28 hosted by Gideon Yago, which will be streamed live on TribecaFilm.com. The 2011 Festival runs from April 20 – May 1.
“This year’s jury is made up of a range of accomplished individuals in their respective fields, bringing a fresh and well-rounded perspective,” said Jane Rosenthal, Co-Founder of the Tribeca Film Festival. “It’s an honor to have a jury of such caliber watching and discussing the films in competition this year.”
Following is a list of all 2011 Festival jurors and their respective categories.
World Competition Categories:
The jurors for the 2011 World Narrative Competition are:
Souleymane Cissé: Noted Malian director; films include the 1995 Cannes Palme d’Or nominee Waati, 1987 Cannes Jury Prize Winner Brightness and Tell Me Who You Are.
Scott Glenn: Actor; films include The Right Stuff, The Silence of the Lambs, The Virgin Suicides, Freedom Writers, The Bourne Ultimatum, W., Secretariat, Sucker Punch and TFF 2011 selection Magic Valley.
David Gordon Green: Independent Spirit Award nominated director/producer; films include George Washington, All the Real Girls, Great World of Sound, Pineapple Express, the recently released Your Highness and the upcoming film The Sitter.
Rula Jebreal: Journalist, author, screenwriter and actress: books include The Bride From Assuan, Rejected and Miral, which was adapted into a film of the same name.
Art Linson: Gotham award winning producer; films include Singles, Fight Club, Lords of Dogtown, Into the Wild, What Just Happened and The Runaways.
Jason Sudeikis: Actor. Best known for roles in Going the Distance, Hall Pass and 2011 TFF selection A Good Old Fashioned Orgy. Also a cast member on television’s Saturday Night Live.
Dianne Wiest: Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG award winning actress; films include Hannah and Her Sisters, Edward Scissorhands, Bullets Over Broadway, Synecdoche, New York and the upcoming The Odd Life of Timothy Green.
The jurors for the 2011 World Documentary Competition are:
Amir Bar-Lev: Documentary filmmaker and producer; films include Fighter, My Kid Could Paint That, The Tillman Story and the upcoming Garcia.
Michael Cera: BAFTA and SAG Award nominated actor; films include Superbad, Juno, Youth In Revolt, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Currently filming The Untitled Mark Webber Project.
RJ Cutler: Oscar nominee and Emmy Award winning director/producer; films include The War Room, Thin, and The September Issue.
Abigail Disney: Film producer and philanthropist; films include 2008 TFF Best Documentary Winner, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Children of Invention, Sons of Perdition and the upcoming narrative feature Return.
Whoopi Goldberg: Moderator on television’s The View, and actress, comedian, humanitarian with Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy, Tony and Grammy wins. Recent films include Toy Story 3, For Colored Girls and the upcoming A Little Bit of Heaven.
Louie Psihoyos: Oscar and DGA winning director; films include The Cove and the upcoming The Singing Planet.
Peter Scarlet: Executive Director of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, former Artistic Director of TFF and former Director of the Cinematheque Francaise.
Emerging Competition Categories:
The jurors for the 2011 Emerging Narrative Competition are:
Paul Dano: Independent Spirit and SAG award nominated actor; films include L.I.E., Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, the recently released Meek’s Cutoff and the upcoming Another Bulls--t Night in Suck City.
Atom Egoyan: Oscar, Golden Palm and Independent Spirit Award nominated director/producer; films include Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, Felicia’s Journey, Where the Truth Lies, Adoration, and Chloe.
Zoe Kazan: TFF 2009 Best Actress winner for The Exploding Girl; other films include Me and Orson Welles, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, It’s Complicated and the recently released films Happythankyoumoreplease, and Meek’s Cutoff.
Anna Kendrick: Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe , SAG, Independent Spirit and Tony award nominated actress; films include Rocket Science, the Twilight series, Up in the Air, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and the upcoming Live With It.
Rainn Wilson: Emmy and SAG Award nominee for television’s The Office; films include Juno, The Rocker, Hesher and the just completed Few Options.
The jurors for the 2011 Emerging Documentary Competition are:
Margaret Bodde: Documentary producer and film preservationist; films include No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, Time Piece, Public Speaking and the upcoming Living in the Material World: George Harrison.
Jared Cohen: Director of Google Ideas, Adjunct Fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations and Author of One Hundred Days of Silence: America and the Rwanda Genocide, and Children of Jihad: A Young American's Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East
J.D. Heyman: Executive Editor of People and former editor at Us Weekly. Held editorial positions at Cosmopolitan and the New York Daily News. Author of books include Get a Life: A Guide to Jobs, Money and the Real World, and The Singled Out Guide to Dating.
Lauren Hutton: Fashion icon, actress, television host and beauty industry pioneer. Film roles include American Gigolo and, more recently, The Joneses. Guest star on television’s Nip/Tuck and host of several shows, including a late-night talk show.
Annie Sundberg: IFC and Sundance award nominated director; films include The Trials of Darryl Hunt, The Devil Came on Horseback and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.
Short Film Competition Categories:
The jurors for the 2011 Narrative Short Film Competition are:
David O. Russell: Oscar, Golden Globe nominee and Independent Spirit Award Winner: films include Spanking the Monkey, Flirting with Disaster, Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, The Fighter and the upcoming Nailed.
Nora Ephron: Multiple Oscar, Golden Globe nominated and BAFTA winning writer-director; films include Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally …, Sleepless in Seattle and Julie and Julia.
Ceci Kurzman: Founder of Nexus Management Group, whose clients include Shakira, and consultant for the Global Philanthropy Group.
Denis Leary: Golden Globe and Emmy nominate actor/writer/producer; work includes Rescue Me, In Search of Ted Demme and the Ice Age films.
Fran Lebowitz: Author noted for her social commentary, recently the subject of the HBO documentary Public Speaking, directed by Martin Scorsese.
Paul Schneider: Actor and screenwriter; films include All the Real Girls, The Family Stone, Lars & the Real Girl, Bright Star, Away We Go & the upcoming Water for Elephants.
Jimmy Wales: Internet entrepreneur and Co-founder of Wkipedia.
The jurors for the 2011 Documentary and Student Short Film Competitions are:
Ahmed Ahmed: Comedian and director; noted for his directorial debut Just Like Us, an official selection of the 2010 Tribeca and Doha Tribeca film festivals. Other films include the UAE film City of Life and Iron Man.
Agnes Gund: President Emerita of MoMA, noted philanthropist, and collector of modern and contemporary art.
Zoe Kravitz: Actress; film roles include The Brave One, Birds of America, The Greatest and the upcoming Beware the Gonzo (a 2010 TFF selection and upcoming release by Tribeca Film), Yelling to the Sky and X:Men: First Class.
Nicole Lapin: Anchor of CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange, contributor to Today, Morning Joe, Daily Rundown, and Jansing & Co, as well as the Huffington Post. Former anchor at CNN.
Lisa Shields: VP of Communications and Marketing, Council on Foreign Relations.
Christine Vachon: Independent Spirit Award winning producer. Films and television projects include Mildred Pierce, Safe, I Shot Andy Warhol, Boys Don’t Cry, Far From Heaven, I’m Not There, and Cairo Time.
Patrick Wilson: Golden Globe nominated actor; best known for Little Children, Watchmen, Hard Candy and Angels in America; upcoming films include The Ledge, and Young Adult.
Together, the six TFF juries will award $175,000 in cash and prizes. Festival winners will also receive a piece of original art by an acclaimed artist as part of the Tribeca Film Festival Artists Awards program.
Top Story: Sophomore Tribeca Film Fest a Hit
The second annual Tribeca Film Festival, which ran from May 3-11, more than doubled last year's traffic, Variety reports. The festival benefited from adding four extra days compared to last year's five-day-long inaugural festival, and attracted an estimated 350,000 attendees to lower Manhattan. Final tallies suggest over 72,000 attended film screenings and panel discussions, and more than 85 percent of available tickets were sold or distributed. Jane Rosenthal, who co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival with Robert De Niro, told Variety the festival benefited from a longer duration, more screenings and more events. Some 15,000 people went to the MTV/VH1-sponsored rock and comedy concert in Battery Park while about 6,500 attended the screenings of When Harry Met Sally..., Diner and Grease on Pier 25 in Hudson River Park.
Saturns Honor Spielberg, Jackson
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson 's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers each received multiple honors Sunday at the 29th annual Saturn Awards, given out by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Spielberg won the best single TV program presentation award for Taken and best director for Minority Report, which was also named best science fiction film.The Two Towers was named best fantasy film and also took home the best supporting actor for cyberthesp Andy Serkis (Gollum).
Australians Fuming Over Kidman's Nicotine Habit
Nicole Kidman's televised cigarette puffing at the Cannes Film Festival this week has anti-smokers in Australia fired up. Kidman, who is in the French town to promote her new film Dogville, was scolded by director Lars von Trier in front of the world's press when she lit up a cigarette. "Oh, Nicole, don't do that--you promised," von Trier said, to no avail--the Australian star puffed away. According to Reuters, the group Action on Smoking and Health said Kidman, one of Australia's greatest success stories and a role model for young women, has a duty to not promote the habit.
Fans Hold Candlelight Vigil for Vandross
Aretha Franklin organized a candlelight vigil for R&B singer Luther Vandross at the Little Rock Baptist Church in Detroit Monday night, The Associated Press reports. Franklin sang "Amazing Grace" for a crowd of 5,000 people and said she needed prayer for Vandross, who suffered a stroke five weeks ago. He is recovering in the intensive care unit of the Weill Cornell Medical Center of New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Vandross, 52, has written and produced songs for Franklin and designed several dresses for the singer to wear during her upcoming tour.
Former Schoolmate Sues Eminem
A former schoolmate of Eminem's who sued the rapper in 2001 is scheduled to have his case go to trial this month, the AP reports. DeAngelo Bailey sued Eminem for $1 million, claiming the rapper's song "Brain Damaged," which named Bailey as an abusive bully, damaged his reputation and his own ability to launch a music career. On Monday, Bailey's attorney asked to be removed from the case because of a breakdown in communications with his client. Macomb County Circuit, Michigan Judge Deborah Servitto granted the request and said the trial was still set for May 30.
Comics Gear Up for Laughs
Veteran comic Bill Cosby, Live With Regis and Kelly co-host Kelly Ripa, Brad Garrett of Everybody Loves Raymond and Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey are just some of the stars set for Montreal's annual Just for Laughs comedy festival, which runs July 10-20, Variety reports. Cosby will headline two shows July 19 at Place des Arts, while Garrett, Ripa and Fey will host the fest's prestige shows.
Role Call: Shyamalan Sets Up Camp in The Woods, Peter Boyle Joins Scooby Doo 2
M. Night Shyamalan, who directed The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs, will helm The Woods for Disney. The pic, set in 1897, tells the story of a close-knit community that has a mythical race of creatures residing in the woods around them. Ashton Kutcher, Joaquin Phoenix and Kirsten Dunst are set to star in the thriller, set for a summer 2004 release ... Everybody Loves Raymond star Peter Boyle is set to play the role of Old Man Wickles in Warner Bros.' Scooby-Doo sequel for director Raja Gosnell. In the TV show's first episode, Wickles was a museum curator who posed as the mysterious Black Knight in order to avoid being revealed as an art thief.
The second annual Tribeca Film Festival has announced its slate of special events, screenings and guests to mark the 25th anniversary of the Black Filmmaker Foundation, Variety reports.
Guests expected to attend the event include Harry Belafonte, Mos Def, and Chris Rock.
The festival will screen 10 of the most influential black films of the last 25 years, including She's Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Boyz N the Hood, Boomerang, House Party and Eve's Bayou. The president and one of the founders of BFF, Warrington Hudlin, compiled the films.
Eve's Bayou director Kasi Lemmons is scheduled to speak on a May 7 panel about the role and representation of black women in film, moderated by actresses Ruby Dee, Alfre Woodard and Anna Deavere Smith (The West Wing).
Filmmaker Robert Townsend, who produced, directed, wrote and starred in the 1987 comedy about the labors of an aspiring minority actor, Hollywood Shuffle, will host a cocktail party with guests and speakers to include Belafonte, Rock, Melvin Van Peebles, Michael Eric Dyson, Reginald Hudlin, Mos Def and Ben Vereen.
"The Tribeca Film Festival founders' love of New York City and concern for the welfare of all New Yorkers gave birth to this festival and this is reflected in their ongoing commitment to inclusion and diversity," Warrington Hudlin told Variety.
The Tribeca Film Festival was founded by Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro to celebrate New York City as a major filmmaking center and to contribute to the long-term recovery of lower Manhattan. Last year's inaugural festival was attended by more than 150,000 people, generated more than $10.4 million in revenues for local Tribeca merchants, and featured several up-and-coming filmmakers.
The festival runs May 3-11.