Actor Armie Hammer is set to produce a semi-autobiographical comedy series. The untitled show will mark The Social Network star's first foray into producing. The series will centre on a man who discovers his parents have kept in contact with his ex-girlfriend and the friendship he forges with her fiance.
Rapper Raekwon is "on strike" from the Wu-Tang Clan because he is unhappy with the direction of the music on the group's long-awaited new album. Bandmate RZA has brought the rap collective together for A Better Tomorrow, which will mark the 20th anniversary of the group's first album release, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) - but the Ice Cream hitmaker has refused to contribute to the project.
He tells RollingStone.com that the music being recorded "don't feel right", adding, "We created something that wound up being so big, it has to sit on a certain kind of podium. It has to be sitting up there shining... I love my fans. I would never give them something that I feel is not a hit or a win..."
The rapper explains he wanted to work with new producers on the project, but RZA plans to work alone.
He continues, "There definitely were conversations... like, 'Let's make this a colourful album with some of the hottest producers in the game'. (People) love and respect us enough where it's like, 'If you call me, it would be an honour to be involved with it'.
"But RZA, you're the guy that can do that and I don't understand why he's not doing that. We want to continue to hold that belt the way it's supposed to be held."
Raekwon insists he will never leave the group, but he will not be involved unless the problems are "fixed", adding, "I'm in a limbo situation... I am on strike. It ain't (sic) the fact that I don't want to be there. Because of course I want to be there. But if we're there, we gotta do the best everything."
RZA has spoken in the past about Raekwon's absence on the record insisting the delays have been caused by the rapper not showing up to the studio to record.
A Better Tomorrow is not the only album the group has in the works - they are set to release one copy of a 31-track record, titled The Wu - Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, which Raekwon is featured on.
Wu-Tang Clan leader Rza is still holding out hope that his bandmate Raekwon will reach out and offer up some verses for the group's final album before the project is completed and handed over to label bosses. Earlier this month (Nov13), producer/rapper RZA revealed the Ice Cream hitmaker was the only one who had yet to contribute to A Better Tomorrow, the hip-hop collective's first album in six years, which he had hoped to release by the end of the year (13) to mark 20 years since their classic debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
RZA now admits the situation with Raekwon still hasn't changed, but he is eager to discuss any problems with him so they can resolve the issue: "He hasn't turned in his verses yet. I don't know if he's still trying to find the vibe of the music. We have to talk about it before it becomes too late. But he hasn't come to the table yet."
And although he would love to welcome his old pal back into the fold, RZA fears the star may miss out on what Wu-Tang have been promoting as the band's last project - although the topic would have to be carefully discussed with all the other members, including Method Man, GZA and Ghostface Killah.
RZA tells the Associated Press, "That's something that I would take a vote on with the rest of the crew. I'm not a dictator about that. Raekwon is a valuable energy to the Wu-Tang, his voice, his lyrics, his approach. Rae is a master lyricist."
Wu-Tang Clan producer Rza has blamed bandmate Raekwon for delaying progress on a new 20th anniversary album after failing to show up for studio sessions. The Gravel Pit hitmakers have been working on the rap collective's first album in six years, A Better Tomorrow, in the hopes of releasing it by the end of the year (13) to mark the two decades since their classic debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
However, group leader RZA admits some members have been less than receptive about reuniting to record new music - and he's named and shamed Raekwon for being one of those not putting in the effort.
He tells Grantland.com, "One of the guys who showed up the most was Method Man. He showed the most tenacity, he was the most vocal, he showed up the most, and he got the most lyrics on the new album. He's already recorded eight or nine songs. He's been on it.
"You know, I give Cappadonna credit, he's been really on it. U-God has been present. Masta Killa be representing. Inspectah Deck has been somewhat present. Ghost (Ghostface) has been, you know, 20 per cent present. And Raekwon hasn't shown up at all. When you look at somebody like Masta Killa and U-God, they seem to have that original hunger to complete the legacy. I respect that everybody (is) busy with they own lives. I started with a plan that I thought would work. Now maybe my plan not working (sic)."
But RZA is remaining positive about the anniversary album after spending time with his bandmates on tour in Europe over the summer (13).
He adds, "We got a lot of work done (recording in Europe). I feel like we have enough material on the album. I just need Raekwon to come onboard fully. I need some more energy from Ghost and GZA. If they give that energy, I will give us a great last album. If they don't give us the energy, I gotta figure out a plan B."
Late rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard is also set return from the grave to appear on the album after RZA unearthed several unreleased songs from his archives to revamp for A Better Tomorrow.
Married movie star Armie Hammer is glad to be through with dating because one ex-girlfriend once tried to leave her mark on the actor by stabbing him in the bedroom. The 26-year-old The Social Network star wed U.S. TV personality Elizabeth Chambers in 2010 when most guys his age were still partying and boasting about their sexual conquests, but he insists he was happy to put single life behind him following one dangerous encounter with a former lover.
He tells America's Elle magazine, "I like the idea of marriage. I like the idea that I have a best friend. It's just really comforting. I remember being single and trying to date, and it was just stressful and hard. It wasn't fun...
"One chick tried to stab me when we were having sex. I should so not be telling this story. She was like, 'True love leaves scars. You don't have any.' And then she tried to stab me with a butcher knife. Of course I promptly broke up with her... seven months later."
Photographer John Russo has taken snaps of 100 famous faces who are renowned for supporting charities and social causes.
Goldie Hawn, Jeff Bridges, Sophia Loren, Ricki Lake, Maria Shriver, and U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama also make the collection, which is called 100 Making A Difference.
E! News reporter Elizabeth Chambers provides the words for the book, which explains how the personalities have helped a number of good causes through their own foundations and funds.
With each outing in his evolving filmmaking career actor-turned-director Ben Affleck has amped up the scope. Gone Baby Gone was a character drama woven into a hard-boiled mystery. The Town saw Affleck dabble in action pulling off bank heists many compared to the expertise of Heat. In Argo the director pulls off his most daring effort melding one part caper comedy and two parts edge-of-your-seat political thriller into an exhilarating theatrical experience.
At the height of the Iranian Revolution in 1979 anti-Shah militants stormed the U.S. embassy and captured 52 American hostages. Six managed to escape the raid finding refuge in the Canadian ambassador's home. Within hours the militants began a search for the missing Americans sifting through shredded paperwork for even the smallest bit of evidence. Under pressure by the ticking clock the CIA worked quickly to formulate a plan to covertly rescue the six embassy workers. Despite a lengthy list of possibilities only Tony Mendez (Affleck) had a plan just enticing enough to unsuspecting Iranian officials to work: the CIA would fake a Hollywood movie shoot.
There's nothing in Argo or Affleck's portrayal of Mendez that would tell you the technical operations officer has the imagination to conjure his master plan — Affleck perhaps to differentiate himself from the past plays his character with so much restraint he looks dead in the eyes — but when the Hollywood hijinks swing into full motion so does Argo. Mendez hooks up with Planet of the Apes makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to convince all of Hollywood that their sci-fi blockbuster "Argo " is readying for production. With enough promotional material concept art and press coverage Mendez and his team can convince the Iranian government they're a legit operation. A location scout in Tehran will be their method of extracting the bunkered down escapees.
Without an interesting lead to draw us in Affleck lets his eclectic ensemble do the heavy lifting. For the most part it works. Argo is basically two movies — Goodman and Arkin lead the Ocean's 11-esque half and Affleck takes the reigns when its time to get the six — another who's who of character actors including Tate Donovan Clea Duvall Scoot McNairy and Rory Cochrane — through the terrifying security of the Iranian airport. Arkin steals the show as a fast talking Hollywood type complete with year-winning catchphrase ("ArGo f**k yourself!) while McNairy adds a little more humanity to the spy mission when his character butts heads with Mendez. The split lessens the impact of each section but the tension in the escape is so high so taut that there's never a moment to check out.
Reality is on Affleck's side his camera floating through crowds of protestors and the streets of Tehran — a warscape where anything can happen. Each angle he chooses heightens the terror which starts to close in on the covert escape as they drift further and further from their homebase. Argo is a complete package with the '70s production design knowing when to play goofy (the fake movie's wild sci-fi designs) and when to remind us that problems took eight more steps to fix then they do today. Alexandre Desplat's score finds balance in haunting melodies and energetic pulses.
Part of Argo's charm is just how unreal the entire operation really was. To see the men and women involved go through with a plan they know could result in death. It's a suspenseful adventure and while there's not much in the way of character to cling to the visceral experience tends to be enough.
Over the next few months, we’ll see new series soar, old series sour, and so much Jersey Shore madness, we’ll want to shower. Let’s face it: The Fall TV season is intimidating. With dozens of new and returning shows hitting our small screens, we know we have some big choices to make. So, to help you determine what to watch, we’re digging deep into the most notable series premiering this season. Where did each show leave off? Where is it headed? And who should you watch it with? Next up is ABC's returning melodrama Grey's Anatomy, which is somehow still on the air and pulling in dedicated viewers even though it has jumped every shark (and tiger) known to mankind.
Returning Series: Grey's Anatomy
Premiere Date: Thursday, Sept. 27 at 9pm ET
Number of Seasons On the Air: This will be the ninth season for Grey's.
You’d Like It If…: You've watched it from the beginning and are fully committed to the cause — no amount of bombings and shootings and gigantic sink holes can keep you away from Meredith and the Seattle Grace gang. Also, if you love smokin' hot (even if they're aging) doctors and cheesy catchphrases. If you have a "person."
You’d Hate It If…: You prefer your medical dramas to be realistic of if you think that it's impossible to come back from the dead; once you drown, that's it.
Grey's Anatomy's Formula: (General Hospital + ER - George Clooney) tequila
Ratings: Eleven million viewers tuned in for the Season 8 finale, so we can most likely count on big numbers for the premiere. Eveyone's gotta know who will survive the crash!
Where Grey's Anatomy Left Off: In last season's penultimate episode, Dr.s Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh), Mark Sloan (Eric Dane), and Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) boarded a plane bound for Boise, Idaho, where they would perform surgery to separate conjoined twins. The plane crashes, leaving everyone gravely injured. In the finale, Lexie dies immediately after Mark professes his love to her. Just before the credits roll, we learn that Mark is bleeding internally and may be on the brink of death as well. Other, less dire (and yet somehow equally dramatic) loose ends include whether Cristina and her husband Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) will be able to work things out following his affair, and if April Kepner (Sarah Drew) will be able to find a job after failing her surgical board exams.
Where Grey's Is Headed: Before the crash, our gang was about to go their separate ways for new job opportunities. Meredith and Derek were off to Harvard, Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) had just snagged a dream job at Johns Hopkins, and Cristina plans to leave for Mayo Clinic. But could the crash wind up keeping everyone in Seattle? And will their injuries — I'm most worried about Derek's mangled hand — even allow them to continue working as surgeons? Whatever happens, the show's main characters (with the exception of Eric Dane, spurring rumors that he doesn't make it through the premiere) have all signed on for two more seasons.
Accolades: Lots. Grey's and its actors has been nominated for 38 Primetime Emmy Awards since its inception, but has only walked away the victor four times: Casting Directors Linda Lowy & John Brace snagged Outstanding Casting in a Drama Series in 2006, Katherine Heigl walked away with Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama in 2007, the show won for Outstanding Makeup in 2010, and Loretta Devine received a trophy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama in 2011.
Who To Watch It With: You college BFFs (for old times' sake) or your cat.
Who Not to Watch It With: Someone who works in the medical profession.
Things you're bound to hear: "You're my person." "Seriously?!" "Mc[Insert Word Here]."
Appropriate Wine and Cheese Pairing: Drown your Seattle Grace woes with a nice bottle — one bottle per viewer — of blood red Pinot Noir and some sharp, but slightly aged, cheddar. But if that's not doing it for you, grab some tequila and drink it right out of the bottle, preferably while dancing on your coffee table.
What You’re Most Likely to Yell at the Screen: “That would never happen!" "Kiss her/him already!" "Take the job!" "Is that even a real disease?!" "Ewwwww!"
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: ABC]
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In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.