American soprano Renee Fleming has swapped opera for acting to make her debut in a play at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. The opera veteran is no stranger to the stage, but for the first time in her three-decade long career, she has stepped into the spotlight without a musical score to accompany her.
In Living on Love, Fleming plays a beloved American opera diva married to a fiery composer, and it co-stars Douglas Sills as her onstage husband, as well as Veep actress Anna Chlumsky and actor Justin Long.
Fleming managed to prove herself onstage, with critics giving her mostly positive reviews.
Alexis Soloski of the New York Daily News writes, "Like all the characters, (Fleming's character) Raquel is an assemblage of tics and quirks rather than a flesh-and-blood human. Ms. Fleming's take on the role is eight-lane-highway broad, and she has the costumes to match. But when she ascends into an aria, letting her heavens-grazing voice stand in for Raquel's, she seems entirely in tune."
Steve Barnes of New York's Times Union newspaper calls her performance both funny and "captivating", adding, "Fleming commands the theatre with an expected amount of regal presence, especially on the few occasions when she sings."
Living on Love ends its run on Saturday (26Jul14).
Oscar winner Octavia Spencer's legal battle with a top weightloss company is set to hit court. The Help star is suing bosses at Sensa for allegedly failing to pay her in full for an endorsement deal.
She claims she received a termination notice a year ago (Jul14) from Sensa chiefs who took issue with tweets she failed to pre-approve as part of the agreement, but Spencer insists she did more than expected for the diet company.
Sensa bosses fired back by alleging that it was Spencer who made an anticipatory breach of her endorsement contract.
Last week (17Jul14), Los Angeles Superior Judge Michael Stern denied Sensa's motion for summary judgment at a hearing, and ruled Spencer had presented enough evidence to try the case.
Her attorney, Bryan Freedman, says, "Ms. Spencer looks forward to presenting the true facts at trial."
"I never thought this debate would be quite so heated. Autotune has always been a hot-button topic... Regardless of the fun and games that we have with studio production, the main thing to keep in mind with Ms. Spears is that tens of millions (hundreds of millions?) of people enjoy the music. That's pretty much the be-all and end-all of it. And charisma is charisma. No software ever invented can manufacture that." Producer William Orbit vouches for Britney Spears' musical talents once again after she came under attack following the leak of a tuneless recording of her 2013 track Alien. He initially spoke out in support of the pop star last week (ends11Jul14), when the audio first hit headlines.
Touchstone Pictures via Everett Collection
Summer: it's a time to relax, soak up the sun, eat mountains of ice cream and tackle the massive pile of books you've been meaning to read. Whether you need to make your way through hundreds of pages of classic literature before school starts up again or you've just been putting off the heavier tomes on your shelf until you have some more free time, reading the classics can sometimes be a slog in the summer. But it's a task well worth undertaking, and not just because it's good to broaden your literary horizons. Many of your favorite films are actually twists on well-worn tales. Sure, they're enjoyable on their own, but the only way to really pick up on the humor of Jane Austen or the references to Shakespeare in a suburban high school rom com is to read the books first. We've rounded up the best movies that become even better, funnier and more charming after you've read the works their based on. Consider it a well-earned reward for a book well read.
10 Things I Hate About YouBased On: The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare.Most Drastic Change: Aside from the high school setting, he plot was simplified to reduce the amount of characters and false identities. For example, Joey Donner was originally two characters, Gremio and Hortensio. Best Reference to the Source: After Kat almost hits Michael with a car, he calls her a “shrew”; Michael also quotes Shakespearean sonnets several times throughout the film, and Cameron quotes the play itself (“I burn; I pine; I perish”). And there's that one girl who is oddly in love with "William."You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: Almost every name in the film is a reference to something else. Padua High School refers to Padua being the location of the play, and Patrick’s last name, Verona, is where Petruchio is originally from. Kat and Bianca’s last name – Stratford – is a reference to Shakespeare’s hometown.
Clueless Based On: Emma by Jane Austen Most Drastic Change: Updating the film to be about ‘90s Valley girls; none of the character’s names are similar to Austen’s characters.Best Reference to the Source: The wedding fake-out at the end of the film. Since Austen wrote a great deal about the marriage plot, all of her novels end with the heroine getting married. You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: While most of the characters have Austenian equivalents, Dionne is an original character, although it could be argued that she represents Ms. Weston. Also, Amy Heckerling cut out the character of Jane Fairfax completely. She is the main obstacle to Emma and Frank Churchill’s relationship; his Clueless doppelganger, Christian, is gay instead.
Bridget Jones’ Diary Based On: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Most Drastic Change: Instead of the large family that Elizabeth Bennet has in the book, Bridget is an only child, and has a large group of friends to give her advice, all of whom vaguely resemble her sisters. Best Reference to the Source: Casting Colin Firth as Mark Darcy. Author Helen Fielding has said that she based the character (both in name and looks) on his portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC miniseries. You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: Instead of Darcy making two proposals, he only makes one; Bridget’s speech when she finds out that he is moving is a reflection of his second confession of love.
She’s the Man Based On: Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare Most Drastic Change: In the play, Viola just pretends to be a man, and calls herself Cesario, rather than specifically impersonating her brother Sebastian. Best Reference to the Source: The character of Malcolm, who is based on the character of Malvolio, has a pet tarantula named Malvolio. You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Books: Like 10 Things I Hate About You, all of the names are either adapted from those of the characters - Duke Orsino is the modern-day equivalent of Orsino, who is a duke, and the restaurant they frequent is called Cesario – or the locations – the school’s name Illyria, is where the play takes place.
Screen Gems via Everett Collection
Easy A Based On: The Scarlett Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne Most Drastic Change: In the book, Hester is ostracized for cheating on her husband with a priest; she got pregnant during the affair. In the film, Olive only pretends to sleep with people. Best Reference to the Source: The foreign film that Olive goes to see, courtesy of one of her fake hookups, is called Der Scharlachrote Buchstabe, which translates to The Scarlett Letter.You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: The film is up-front about many of its similarities to Hawthorne’s book, as Olive is studying it in class. Though Olive doesn’t have an affair with anyone, Hester and Arthur Dimmsdale’s relationship is paralleled in the affair that Mrs. Griffith has with Micah.
ScroogedBased On: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Most Drastic Change: At the end of the film, Frank reunites with his love, Claire. However, in the book, too much time has passed for him to reconcile with Belle, and so he is instead content with becoming part of the Cratchitt family. Best Reference to the Original: In addition to Frank Cross joking about “scaring the Dickens out of people,” one of the TV shows he produces is called “Scrooge,” which was an alternate title that Dickens published the story under. You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: The Bob Cratchitt part is played by two different characters: Frank’s overworked assistant Grace Cooley and the much-abused yes-man Eliot Loudermilk.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? Based On: Homer’s The Odyssey Most Drastic Change: Instead of journeying home after a great war, Ulysses has escaped from a prison chain gang. Best Reference to the Source: The film is filled with references to the epic, but the cleverest is the repeated use of the song “Man of Constant Sorrow,” as the name Odysseus (the Greek equivalent of Ulysses) means “man who is in constant pain and sorrow.” You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: In order to win Penelope’s hand in marriage, all the suitors must string Odysseus’ bow and shoot an arrow through a dozen axe heads, but only Odysseus is strong enough to string the bow. In the film, Ulysseus also strings a bow in order to prove that he is who he says he is, and not an imposter.
Ruby Sparks Based On: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.Most Drastic Change: In the play, Higgins “makes” Eliza by transforming her from a flower girl into a lady, but in the film, Calvin physically creates Ruby, as she is a product of his imagination.Best Reference to the Source: At the end, Ruby becomes her own person, and leaves Calvin behind to do what she wants and become who she wants, which reflects the controversial ending of the play, in which Eliza leaves Henry behind in order to marry Freddy, even though Henry disapproves. The ending of Shaw's play was very controversial when it was first performed, but it was important to him that Eliza doesn't marry Henry. You’d Only Notice This if You Read the Book: Calvin’s brother, Harry, repeatedly warns him to be careful with what he’s doing, and not to disregard Ruby’s emotions, just like how Henry’s friend, Colonel Pickering, constantly warns Henry to be kind to Eliza and to treat her like a real person, rather than an experiment.
Walt Disney Co.
According to the House of Mouse, everything is fair game for the remake treatment. With the hugely successful Maleficent just about wrapping up a spellbinding run at the box office, Disney has set its sights on their next live-action remake: Dumbo, the 1941 classic about a baby elephant that miraculously learns to fly thanks to his jumbo-sized ears, is getting remade into a live-action film. Transformers scribe Ehren Kruger is penning the script, and the film will feature an additional human story that will mirror Dumbo's journey in the film. Given the nature of the story, Dumbo will be a tricky film to update for a modern audiences, and some might argue that the flying elephant is better off left in the past. Here are our reasons for and against a Dumbo remake.
WHY IT WILL WORK
It's a good story: Dumbo, at it's purest, is a simple and uplifting parable about being yourself in the face of adversity and letting your freak flag fly. It's a pretty universal story and there's no reason it couldn't work for today's audiences. In a time of revisionist fairy tales and live-action perspective twists, maybe sticking with the bare bones classic narrative would be the best way to handle a Dumbo remake.
The songs are great: We dare you not to cry while a locked up Ms. Jumbo sings "Baby Mine" while cradling Dumbo. It's impossible.
It's in serious need of an update: As well meaning as it was at the time of release, Dumbo is racked with problems, and the story is in need of a fresh coat of paint. The crow characters are obviously the biggest issue to contend with. At best, they're slightly insensitive racial stereotype, and at worst well... Let's just say the leader of the flock is named "Jim Crow" and leave it at that. Besides the film's troubling racial depictions, there are other issues. 1941 was a very different time and place, and having your two main characters getting hammered and going on a bad trip featuring hallucinatory pink elephants probably wouldn't fly with parents in 2014.
Many kids haven't seen the original: Disney fandom is such a generational thing, and the kids that are currently torturing their parents with yet another spirited rendition of "Let It Go" probably haven't seen, or might not even be aware with Disney's golden age of animation. Recreating Dumbo for a new audience will likely introduce the character to a new generation of fans.
WHY IT WON'T
It's controversial: As stated earlier, Dumbo has its fair share of controversy, which is why it's slightly baffling that Disney chose to remake this particular film out of its extensive back log of animated classics. If included at all, the crow characters would need some serious retooling, and we could easily see them being removed altogether. But removal of characters and elements from the classic film would likely draw ire from Disney purists. It's sort of a lose-lose situation.
It's too simple: The original Dumbo clocks in at only about 60 minutes, which is barely a feature length film, and pales in comparison to recent Disney efforts like Maleficent (97 minutes) and Frozen (105 minutes). Stretching another 30 minutes out of a 60-minute story would just make a crappier film. They'd likely need to add additional plot lines, which of course leads to...
The added human story: The original Dumbo feels unique in the way that it focuses almost solely on the circus animals while leaving the human characters, who are often portrayed as cruel and self-serving, in the background. Creating a human family as a side plot seems like an idea that goes against what makes the original film special in the first place. We can't help but think that everything involving the new human characters will feel superfluous. Dumbo is a story about a baby elephant and his mouse friend, not a boy and his pachyderm.
Too many CGI animals: After the first trailer for the live-action Paddington Bear movie turned a formerly lovable anthropomorphic character into the stuff of nightmares, Disney has to be pretty cautious with the new version of Dumbo. Between Dumbo himself, Timothy Q. Mouse, the crows, and all of the other elephant characters, there's going to be a ton of CG animals running around, and the effects would need to be impeccable for all of those digital characters to look convincing in a live-action setting.
Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is celebrating after learning Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt plan to make their new movie on his islands. Brangelina recently visited Malta and Gozo and it appears they liked what they saw - Muscat has confirmed the real-life couple's new project will be filmed there.
In a statement obtained by Us Weekly magazine, he writes, "I'm happy that Hollywood producers have once again chosen Malta for their project, and we will be delighted to host Mr. Pitt, Ms. Jolie, and their family for the second time in just a few years.
"I'm sure that this film will help put our beautiful sister island of Gozo on the world map."
Pitt filmed scenes for zombie apocalypse movie Wold War Z in Malta, and Jolie and the couple's kids joined the actor for the Mediterranean shoot.
Reports suggest the new film, a love story written by Jolie, will be filmed in Gozo harbour village Mgarr throughout August (14).
The project will be the couple's first film together since they met and fell in love while making Mr & Mrs Smith in 2007.
2 Broke Girls star Garrett Morris is facing legal action from bosses of a talent agency who claim the actor owes them unpaid commission. In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles on Wednesday (02Jul14), a legal team for the Global Artists Agency allege Morris entered into a verbal contract in 2009 to pay the agency 10 per cent of his income after staff negotiated his role in the sitcom.
The legal documents claim Morris upheld the agreement during the first two series of the comedy, starring Kat Dennings, but stopped paying commission during the third season.
However, a representative for the actor insists Morris has been dragged into a dispute between his long-standing agent and her former employers Global Artists Talent, and that the suit's accusations are inaccurate.
The rep says, "Mr. Morris has always paid his commissions. The true dispute is between Mr. Morris' longtime agent, Cynthia Booth, and her former agency Global Artists Agency. Mr. Morris, with the approval of Ms. Booth, offered to put the paid commissions into trust to allow the real parties to resolve their claims without involving him. It is unfortunate that he has been put in the middle of this ongoing dispute, when in fact he has honored his obligations."
Veteran actress Nora Aunor has thanked fans for their outpouring of support after the president of her native Philippines refused to honour her with a top cultural award due to a past drug issue. The famed Thy Womb star's name was noticeably absent from the annual list of National Artists President Benigno Aquino III announced on Monday (30Jun14), even though officials at the National Center for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) submitted her name for the prestigious prize.
Explaining his decision, the President said, "My only problem - we all know I respect Ms. Nora Aunor - was her drug conviction. She was convicted and punished, and the question here is: if we make her a National Artist, is there a message we are sending to the people?"
Aunor was never actually convicted - she was arrested for drug possession in Los Angeles in 2005, but the charges were dropped in 2007 after she completed a rehabilitation programme.
Now Aunor has spoken out about the scandal, admitting she was initially "hurt" by the list snub.
She says, "(The) outpouring of support that I saw and felt from my countrymen - my colleagues in the industry, fans and friends, priests and nuns, teachers and other academicians (sic), media people, national artists, even ordinary people from here and abroad - more than made up for the disappointment.
"(The people's reaction) made me feel that, with or without the trophy and honour that are given by those in power, the Filipino masses have already spoken and have conferred the highest honour on (me), by declaring (me) the people's national artist in their hearts."
Getty Images/Astrid Stawiarz
Well, this is awkward... for GQ anyway. One of their journalists made the mistake of implying that, in her new movie Third Person, Olivia Wilde is way too sexy to also play an intelligent writer. Or, to quote Tom Carson exactly:
She's supposed to be a writer too, but your belief in that won't outlast Wilde scampering naked through hotel corridors once Neeson playfully locks her out of his room. With that tush, who'd need to be literate? Who'd want to?
Yikes. Wilde wasn't feelin' it, and replied to a tweet sent out by feminist blog and news source Jezebel:
HA. Kiss my smart ass, GQ.
GQ has since apologized, tweeting the following message:
We regret that boneheaded joke in Tom Carson's "Third Person" review. So does he."
Apologies sure are nice, but it'd be even nicer to live in a world where women were treated like, you know, actual people.
Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @shannonmhouston
Rapper Big Boi's divorce has been called off. Sherlita Patton filed for divorce from the Outkast star last year (13) and requested child support, spousal support, a split of the marital assets and attorney's fees.
However, the couple has reportedly reunited and the Ms. Jackson star and his wife were granted a request to have the divorce dropped earlier this month (Jun14), according to TMZ.com.
Big Boi, real name Antwan Andre Patton, and Sherlita were married in 2002 and have two children, aged 18 and 12.