Last year when Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker teamed up, it resulted in one of the best films of the year: Lee Daniels' The Butler. This year the two are working together on a new project, and we have a number of reasons to get excited about it. Whitaker is rumored to be the director of the highly-anticipated adaptation of The Shack, a book that had some controversial plot points when it first came out back in 2007. It hasn't been confirmed yet, but according to reports he has plans to write, direct, and star in the movie. The great Idris Elba is rumored to have been cast in a lead role, so we also have that to look forward to. And if you haven't read the book yet, Indiewire's Shadow & Act shared this bit about William Paul Young's novel:
... a Christian-themed novel about a character by the name of Mackenzie Allen Philips, whose youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and may have been brutally murdered. Four years later, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God (the above-mentioned jolly African American woman), inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.
The book went on to become a bestseller, but it's going to be interesting to see how people react to the movie — especially considering the fact that Winfrey is most likely playing the role of God. When issues of race and gender intersect with Christianity and Christian beliefs, controversy almost always ensues. We saw strong reactions to Darren Aronofsky's Noah (which people felt deviated too far from the Bible, while others argued that there should have been people of color in the film), and people will surely raise objections about a black woman playing God.
So, how controversial is Oprah's new movie? Well, not controversial at all if you think God could (or even should) be played by a woman of color. And if you loved Winfrey's performance in The Butler, then this is definitely exciting casting news.
But if you believe God either looks like some variation of a.) Gandalf, b.) Morgan Freeman, or c.) Will Ferrell then this movie might be problematic for you.
Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @shannonmhouston
Universal via Everett Collection
Plenty of singers try their hand at acting… some successfully (Cher, Barbara Streisand) and others not so successfully (Madonna, Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, etc.). There are times, though, when we're bowled over by the musical talents of our favorite actresses.
Whether it's voicing an animated heroine or taking an unexpected role in a big budget musical, these actresses have proven that they have the pipes to belt out a tune while still delivering top-notch acting performances.
When many people saw the credits for Disney's Frozen, they assumed that Bell was just providing the speaking part for Anna, that surely it was someone else singing on "Love Is an Open Door." Even some hardcore Veronica Mars fans had lost sight of the fact that Bell came from a musical theater background or forgot about her appearance in Refer Madness: The Musical.
So, a lot of people find Hathaway pretentious and annoying… it doesn't change the fact that the girl can sing. Audiences were surprised when her character started singing in one of her early films, Ella Enchanted, but by the time of Les Miserables, we were all aware that she had the ability. Still, her powerful rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" surprised just about everyone.
When Seyfried was first starting out in Mean Girls, we thought she was just another soap opera actress (she appeared on As the World Turns and All My Children) making a jump to the big time… which she subsequently did with her role on HBO's Big Love. Little known to the public, she had training in not only musical theater, but opera. It wasn't until 2008's Mamma Mia! that audiences got a taste of her singing… and then came her performance as Cosette in Les Miserables. C'est magnifique!
Stone doesn't sing much because of some vocal cord issues, but when she was younger she was part of VH1's In Search of the New Partridge Family. She also did some backing vocals for the remake of The Waitresses' "I Know What Boys Like" from The House Bunny. It was her performance during the school assembly scene of Easy A,where she rocked the disco classic "Knock on Wood," that left audiences wondering if it was really her voice. It was indeed, and she was spectacular.
For years, Streep was known as the premier actress of her generation, though not as a performer with any musical ability. Starting with 2006's Prairie Home Companion, however, Streep has been unafraid to put her voice out for public consumption. She looked like she was having a blast playing the lead in Mamma Mia! opposite Seyfried and will soon be back on the big screen playing the Witch in the film adaption of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods.
Despite starting her career doing Broadway musicals as a girl, the new "It" singing actress first came to notice with largely non-musical roles in Twilight and Up in the Air (although we did get a glimpse with her karaoke version of "Time After Time"). It wasn't until she killed as the reluctant a capella participant in Pitch Perfect that audiences fell in love with her voice. The actresses even scored a hit single with her version of "Cups (When I'm Gone)" from the soundtrack. With roles in Into the Woods and Pitch Perfect 2, we'll get plenty of opportunities to continue enjoying her vocal talent.
Her work with M. Ward on their She & Him projects have turned Deschanel into a legitimate recording artist, but she's still better known for her acting in movies like (500) Days of Summer and her TV show New Girl. Every Christmas the actress pops up in one of her earlier film roles as Will Ferrell's love interest in Elf singing holiday classics and she's set to appear in Barry Levinson's musical comedy Rock the Kasbah.
Adams may be a five-time Academy Award nominee and might turn heads on the red carpet with her plunging necklines, but she knows her way around a song as well. The actress made a believable live-action Disney princess in Enchanted, including taking center stage during the big production number "That's How You Know." She apparently likes to sing in kiddie fare, because her other big on-screen musical moments mostly happened with Jason Segel, Kermit and Miss Piggy in The Muppets.
Paltrow's mother, Blythe Danner, started her film career in the musical 1776 and she has an uncle that's an opera singer, so she comes by her vocal abilities honestly. After making her on-screen singing debut in Emma, she starred in her father Bruce Paltrow's Duets, where her collaboration with Huey Lewis on Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'" spawned an adult contemporary hit. Besides having a recurring spot on TV's Glee, Paltrow also got her twang on in Country Strong.
Comedian Will Ferrell's Anchorman alter-ego Ron Burgundy has been bumped from the broadcasting schedule at U.S. sports network ESPN due to developments in a college footballer's high-profile sexual assault case. The actor has been busy promoting the new sequel to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy by reprising his bumbling character for live broadcasts on a variety of TV news shows, but a planned appearance on SportsCenter on Thursday evening (05Dec13) has been axed in favour of coverage about Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston, who has been fighting allegations of rape dating back to last year (Dec12).
The state attorney of Lee County, Florida announced on Thursday that Winston would not be charged with any crime. The 19 year old's lawyer claimed sex between the star player and the accuser had been consensual.
Ironically, Ferrell's original 2004 comedy was based around Burgundy being ousted from a top news show. His ESPN guest spot, to promote Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, has not been rescheduled.
The cast of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues treated film fans at the movie's Sydney, Australia premiere on Sunday (24Nov13) by performing a rendition of Starland Vocal Band's 1976 hit Afternoon Delight. Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner broke into song to belt out the tune they sang in character in the original film.
Country superstars Blake Shelton and Dierks Bentley have paid tribute to fellow singer Wayne Mills after he was fatally shot at a bar in Nashville, Tennessee over the weekend (23-24Nov13). The 44 year old was shot in the early hours of Saturday morning (23Nov13) by the owner of the Pit and Barrel bar, Chris Ferrell, who claims he acted in self-defence after an argument broke out.
Mills was admitted to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in a critical condition, and later died.
Police spokeswoman Kris Mumford says, "We're investigating Chris Ferrell's claims of self-defence."
No arrests have been made.
During his career, Mills toured with the Wayne Mills Band, and stars including Jamey Johnson, Taylor Hicks and Shelton all opened for the group.
Shelton was among the first to pay tribute after hearing of his friend's death, writing in a post on Twitter.com, "Extremely sad to hear about the death of my old friend Wayne Mills... Rest in peace brother." He also sent his condolences to Mills' widow, Carol.
Hicks adds, "My good friend Wayne Mills passed away in Nashville. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. RIP Wayne he was my buddy", while Bentley writes, "Man....totally shocked and saddened to hear about Wayne Mills' death. Honky tonker and true lover of country music. RIP Wayne."
Paul McDonald adds, "Rest in peace Mr. Wayne Mills. The Wayne Mills Band and I toured many years in the same circle & I always respected and looked up to his craft. He will be missed by many."
Will Ferrell's eccentric newsman character from Anchorman 2, Ron Burgundy, will serve as a commentator for a curling tournament in Winnipeg, Canada on 1 December (13). The fictional journalist will be in The Sports Network's broadcast booth giving the play by play for the ice sport's Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings tournament, which determines who will represent Canada in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Will Ferrell's Anchorman character Ron Burgundy is lending his name to America's Emerson College for a day after officials declared its School of Communication will be renamed after the fictional journalist. Just weeks before the highly-anticipated sequel's release in December (13), the Boston, Massachusetts school will honour the eccentric newsman with the coveted accolade.
Ferrell will be on hand for the 4 December (13) day-long event, appearing completely in character to impart his news knowledge to students of the college, which is known for its excellence in journalism and communication.
Burgundy will kick off the day with a morning press conference, followed by the renaming ceremony, where he will unveil the Ron Burgundy School of Communication - a name that will only last for 24 hours, before school officials revert back to its previous title.
Burgundy, who will also introduce a special screening of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues for members of the Emerson community, shares his excitement for the renaming in a statement that reads: "I had to pinch myself really hard when I learned that Emerson College was naming its School of Communication for me. It's kind of a big deal. I can't wait to inspire students with my story of how I got to the top... the very top. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. It's a lot of work, especially if you don't have good hair."
The silver screen anchorman has already landed his own exhibit in Washington D.C.'s Newseum, which features costumes and props from the original 2004 hit and the upcoming sequel.
Danica Patrick has certainly made her mark on NASCAR history. But long before she became a figure to idolize for ferociously speeding down the track, Louise Smith revved her engine and paved the way for future female racers. In an attempt to highlight Smith's successes, Lionsgate has teamed up with Odd Lot Entertainment and acquired Spitfire, the fact-based story of Smith and her tenure as one of the top female racers in the 1950s, according to Deadline.
The film, which is being penned by Grant Thompson (2014's McFarland), will follow "the first lady of racing" — a figure who is known for racing at the Daytona Beach road course, being the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, and securing the initial funding for the institution that would become NASCAR. (Basically, every person who loves NASCAR should be bowing down to the groundbreaking Smith.)
Given that the last big-name film that NASCAR lent its name to was Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby, this female-driven film (no pun intended*) seems to be quite a different speed than the Will Ferrell flick. As of yet, it's hard to tell what kind of audience the film is going to bring in, but if it's anything like A League of Their Own, then it's sure to be a crowd-pleaser that sends feminism-induced chills rolling up all of our spines. Because as everyone knows, there's nothing better than an underdog rising to the top and knocking a few smirks off of doubtful faces.
Nicky Weinstock of Invention Films is producing, and NASCAR is executive producing.
*That pun was totally intended.
Will Ferrell's bumbling newsman character from the Anchorman film franchise, Ron Burgundy, has landed his own exhibit. Costumes and props from 2004 hit Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy and its upcoming sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, feature in a new display at Washington D.C.'s Newseum, which will open on Thursday (14Nov13) and run until the end of August, 2014.